Serving Sooke to Sidney
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HomeWise Plumbing & Drainage
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve put together a comprehensive run down of questions
we hear most often.
I have recently been told that my perimeter drainage system requires replacement – is this the case?
It could be, however our experience has been that many contractors will give a quick inspection and promptly recommend a full system replacement.

We believe in taking the time to understand our customer’s needs and how we can best meet them. We are confident that being honest and fair with our customers is the best way to ensure the long term success of our company.

We can inspect your drainage systems to determine its true condition and whether repair/cleaning or replacement makes the most sense for you. Our plumbers have extensive experience in perimeter drain installation and maintenance and are available 24/7/365 to serve you!
I don't have any hot water, what is wrong?
You could have a problem with one of the thermostats in your water heater, which can result in water that is too cold, or too hot.

The dip tube in your water heater may have ruptured causing cold water to short circuit through the heater. If there is no pressure on the hot side as opposed to simply low temperature, you may have a malfunctioning heat trap, which is a device designed to limit thermal migration from your heater into the water distribution system in your home.

You could also have a malfunctioning heater element, which isn't heating the water as it should. Our plumbers are trained to identify all of the above issues and more.
Does my hot water tank require inspections?
Yes! There are many components to a water heater and these components can and should be serviced to ensure safe operation and to extend the life of your water heater.

The temperature and pressure relief valve (commonly referred to as the T and P) is an important safety component that is designed to discharge water from the tank when an unsafe pressure or temperature is sensed within the tank. If this valve fails to operate properly, your water heater could explode with tremendous force (expansion ratio for water to steam is 1700 times).

Sediment flushing and a properly sized and functioning expansion tank are important ways to extend the life of the water heater. Our plumbers are trained to perform all manners of water heater service and maintenance – call us today for prompt and friendly service!
I have low water pressure, what is wrong?
It's possible that you have a broken water service line or a clogged pipe. A broken water line can allow water to escape from someplace other than where you want it, which reduces pressure.

A clogged pipe can also reduce the amount of water reaching a faucet or shower, which has a similar effect on pressure. A clogged aerator (the filter/pressure limiter at the tip of most faucets) or shower head could be an issue as well.

We have state of the art equipment and techniques to easily locate water leaks that can cost upwards of $200 per day in water consumption. If a pressure reducing valve has recently been installed, it may not be adjusted to an optimal pressure setting for your home. Water pressure within residential dwellings varies between 30 and 80 psi – our plumbers can quickly measure your pressure and determine the cause of any problems you may have.
My toilet is gurgling what should I do?
A toilet may seem simple; push lever, contents empty. However, toilets operate on some pretty nifty scientific principles, such as the siphon. This is the method by which water is pulled up and out of the toilet bowl, and down the drain. This system acts a bit like a vacuum, and if there is a blockage in the drain, clogged venting, or some other issue interrupting the correct balance of air flow and water, a gurgling can occur.

Some common reasons for toilet gurgling are septic tank problems and root intrusion into the sewer line. Our plumbers are trained to quickly identify the cause(s) of toilet issues and fix them right the first time. Call us for prompt and friendly service!
How does a gravity-flow toilet work?
When a properly functioning toilet is sitting undisturbed, the water in the tank keeps the float held aloft. In this position, the ballcock (or fill valve) is held closed, preventing more water from entering the tank from the plumbing supply. Meanwhile, the flapper sits in the flush valve seat, preventing water from exiting the tank into the bowl.

Water in the bowl sits at a level in line with the weir, a dam-like structure in the trap that allows water to pass over it when the water level rises.

Once the flush handle is pressed, a lever and chain raise the flapper, allowing water to rapidly leave the tank and enter the rim of the bowl. The flapper is buoyant, which keeps the valve open while the water drains. Once the tank is empty, the flapper settles back into place.

The water from the tank travels around the rim, then down the siphon jet. On its way to the siphon jet, some of the water exits instead through slanted rim holes, washing the inside of the bowl and helping to send the water into a spiral.

The water travelling through the siphon jet fills the trap rapidly. Gravity takes over from there, creating a siphon, which pulls the water through the trap and out of the bowl, into the plumbing and out of the house.

The float lowers with the water level in the emptying tank. This causes the tank's fill valve to open, allowing water to enter the tank from the plumbing supply line. A small amount of this water is diverted into the fill valve overflow tube, helping to refill the bowl.

As the new water enters the tank, the water level again rises, lifting the float. Once the float is at the appropriate height, the tank's fill valve closes, and the toilet is ready for another flush.
What should I do if my hot water tank or heater is leaking?
It's a common problem with older water heaters, which is why it's a good idea to replace your tank, or at least have a plumber inspect it, if it is nearing the end of the warranty period.

If it's already too late, and your water heater is leaking, you should aim to get a replacement as soon as possible, to avoid major damage from flooding.

Water heater tank with locations of water supply lines and power source.

1. Shut off the plumbing supply line. The first step to take when getting a leaking hot water tank ready for your plumber is to turn off the water supply to the heater. To do this, locate the cold supply line to the heater, which will be the colder of two lines usually located at the top of the tank.

2. Shutting off the power supply. a. (electric tank) For an electric water heater, locate the breaker. b. (gas tank) For a gas water heater, locate the gas valve and set it to the off position.

3. Call your plumber. It's a good idea to have the make and model of your tank handy, as well as the serial number. This information can generally be found on the tank, usually on a label or in a pocket affixed the the heater.

There are a few other problems common to hot water tanks. Sediment in the bottom of the tank, which can make it harder for the heating element at the bottom of the tank to heat the water, and can lend to the deterioration of the water heater's bottom. A faulty T&P (temperature & pressure) relief valve, or one which is clogged by sediment, can also be an issue. This device prevents the water in your heater from reaching a dangerous pressure level. Regular maintenance on your hot water tank can help to prevent these problems, among others. Your plumber can inspect and perform regular maintenance on your tank, just call for recommendations.
How can I maintain my water heater?
The temperature and pressure relief valve is critical to the safety and proper operation of your water heater. It's a simple but important valve and should be checked once a year. The T&P relief valve is located either on the top of the water heater in the centre or on the side of the water heater about three quarters of the way up. It has a brass colour and a small steel lever handle on the top. To test the T&P relief valve:

Simply lift up on the lever part way, then let go and allow it to rapidly snap back.

You should hear a gurgling sound as the valve allows some water to be released into the drain tube.

If the T&P valve did nothing or continues to run after it is released then it is faulty/fouled and needs to be replaced.

Removal of sediments from the bottom of the tank is important to prevent rust, corrosion and improve efficiency. Although a full water heater tank draining and flush is best, performing a full flush is a bit of work and requires shutting down the water heater. This mini-flush works well, takes a fraction of the time and allows you to do it while the water heater is running:

Screw a garden hose onto the drain valve found near the bottom of the tank. Some drain valves have a handle. Others have a short handle-less stem with a slot for a flat blade screwdriver.

Turn the valve counter-clockwise to release a few gallons into a bucket or the bathtub.

Close the valve by turning it clockwise. Repeat as necessary till the water running from the hose is clear. Perform a full flush once a year.

For electric heaters, turn off the power. For gas, turn the control to pilot.

Turn off the cold inlet valve Attach a garden hose to the outlet valve at the bottom, and position to allow safe draining of hot water.

Open the outlet valve. Open a hot water tap in the home, preferably upstairs if applicable. Once the tank drains, reopen the cold valve to flush the tank.

Once thoroughly flushed, reverse the process to restore normal operation.
If I had another company install a water heater or faucet can you deal with the warranties on those products?
Yes we can. Regardless of who it is that installed your fixture, be it water heater, taps, etc., if the product is under manufacturer warranty, HomeWise Plumbing will be glad to intervene and ensure that your warranty is honoured. Many plumbing fixtures carry lifetime warranties and most water heaters carry 6-10 year warranties - we can help you determine what sort of warranty applies to your individual product and handle the warranty process on your behalf.
Why do you have a call-out fee?
Service plumbers spend on average nearly half their day travelling from job site to job site. The call-out fee is a charge intended to offset the costs associated with travel to and from your location. Return customers can have this fee reduced, and we occasionally offer promotions wherein this fee is waived. We'll also waive the fee if we are already in your area, and of course, we only charge the fee once per job, even if we have to return several times (such as for a renovation).
Are you a green company?
We do our best to help the planet where we can, from reducing paper use to ride sharing whenever possible for our techs.

We do not use harsh chemicals to clear drains, which is not only good for the environment but also for your piping.

We recycle water heaters, toilets, faucets etc and refurbish used plumbing parts for use in community low income housing whenever possible.
Is there any advantage in replacing my plastic faucet risers (the hot / cold supply lines) with the newer braided steel type?
In our view there is a significant advantage. The plastic ones might be okay if they were installed by an experienced plumber, but they are prone to blowing off at the lower end or cracking in some circumstances. This can result in an expensive and inconvenient water damage insurance claims.

We recommend braided steel risers, as both nuts come factory-installed. The peace of mind is well-worth the small price of this conversion.

HomeWise Plumbing can typically change out the risers in a home in a couple of hours, including sinks and toilets, minimizing inconvenience and maximizing peace of mind.
I am adding a new sub-floor in my bathroom. Is it okay to stack two wax rings together to make up the difference under the toilet?
We see the negative results of this action all the time, and it usually leads to big problems! The answer is, "never!" The proper thing to do is to raise the floor flange, which is best done by a professional plumber. The tolerance for the height of the top of a flange ranges from flush with the floor to 1/2" proud, but then it is essential to choose the correct wax ring accordingly, of which there are 3 variations to choose from.
I have heard that it would be smart to get my poly-b water pipes replaced. Is that true?
Insurance companies are beginning to refuse to renew insurance for houses with poly-b water pipes, so it is a looming problem. Generally speaking the issue is more to do with the fittings than the pipe, especially if you have grey plastic fittings, and particularly on the hot side of the system.

We are usually able to avoid ripping out entire walls or ceilings by using crawlspaces and joist spaces. It only takes one insurance claim for most people to see the value in switching to Pex.
I've noticed a little water on the floor around my water heater sometimes - it seems to come and go. Any ideas why this might be?
Your water heater has a device called a temperature and pressure relief valve which is set to open at 150 psi. A little bit of water on the floor that comes and goes is likely due to the water pressure in the house reaching 150psi which can be due to a number of reasons. The BC Plumbing code states that the water pressure in a residence should not exceed 80 psi as anything higher puts you at risk for burst pipes/fittings/faucets etc. There are a number of things that can be done to keep the pressure in your home within an acceptable range including installation of a potable expansion tank, or thermal relief valve.
My water heater is at the end of its life and I am considering replacement options. Are there any rebates available for new water heaters?
There are rebates available ranging in value from $200 to $1000 depending on the type of water heater we install for you. Your out of pocket costs for the kind of system that generates a higher rebate such as a condensing tankless or condensing storage tank model will be higher, but some quick math using an energy efficiency savings calculator shows that the system will save you a lot of money over its lifetime.

You are also helping the environment at the same time by lowering energy consumption, which is something you can feel good about. Feel free to call us anytime and we can walk you through the details of the different systems available.
We are heading out on vacation soon. Are there any valves that we should turn off while we are away?
It is recommended that you turn off your main water shut off while away, however this may cut the water off to an outside irrigation system if you have it. If turning off the main water supply is not an option, turn off the shut off valve to your water heater and the shut off valves to your clothes washer as these items are some of the most likely to burst while you're away.

At HomeWise Plumbing, we offer life-time warranty burst-proof water heaters, 'Floodstop' shut off valves that close automatically when they detect a leak, which are great if you forget to turn these items off before leaving. If you need help to get things turned off or on call our office to speak with a plumber - we're always happy to help.
The winter rains we get on Vancouver Island will be here soon. Last year, every time we got heavy rain for a few days, I got water in my basement. How can I prepare this year?
Aside from rare exceptions, every house has a 'perimeter system' or 'weeping/drain tile' installed around the outside of its foundation. Over the years, sediment accumulates from roof and driveway run-off, and/or roots penetrate the system, often causing a blockage. Since water will always take the path of least resistance, and is under substantial hydraulic pressure, especially for deeper systems, water can end up in your basement or crawlspace.

We recommend a perimeter drain camera inspection/cleaning. Worst case situations require this annually, but most houses can go about 5 years between maintenance visits.
What maintenance is there to do on my two-piece toilet, and can I do it myself?
The two most common repairs or maintenance items on a two-piece toilet are the fill valve and the flapper, which usually last about 8 years. Tank-to-bowl gaskets should be replaced every 10 years or so.

As to whether the average person can change these themselves or not depends on the individual, and on their housing situation. For instance, most strata complexes demand that plumbing repairs be done by a licensed plumber.
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