Q: How can I prevent my shower water from turning 'colder' when someone turns on the kitchen sink? 

A: What you are experiencing is referred to a water pressure drop. This may be due to the size and condition of your water distribution piping, low static and residual water pressure or the quality or working condition of your shower valve. I suggest that if your domestic water system is feed by a public water service that you contact the water department and inquire about the water pressure in your area. Low water pressure can sometimes be solved with a water pressure booster pump. You also may want to consider increasing the size of you water distribution mains and risers which will improve the volume of water available. If your plumbing system is not of historical significance you might consider replacing old brass and lead piping that may be clogged with build up on the interior of the pipe walls. However, if your shower valve is old, non balancing or is not functioning properly it would be far less expensive to replace the shower valve than make any of the modifications above. Perhaps, you need a plumber? 

Q: Can I get a price estimate on a job before it's done? 

A: Yes. Towne & Country Plumbing and Heating is dedicated to giving our customers a quote before any work begins.

Q: My toilet bowl works fine except that after attaining its proper level of water following a flush. Then the water level drops about 2 - 4 inches in about 10 minutes. There is no leak. What do you think? 

A: Some of the much older type reverse trap toilets will do this. In most instances your water level will drop about 3 inches in 5 minutes. Since this type of toilet is older, install a newer type toilet if this annoys you.

Q: We have been experiencing "knocking pipes" and it has gotten worse. I had a plumber tell me that we need to replace the cartridges in both shower valves. Could I buy the cartridges myself and save dollars?

It sounds like the pipes make more noise in the basement than the showers. What could this be? 

A: Beware of this plumber!! Your knocking pipes may be caused by more than needing new cartridges in your shower valves. Some pipes may need to be supported and fastened more securely, too. Please check out and test all work prior to paying this plumber.

Q: What is the best thing to use when your bathroom sink drain is draining very, very slow? Are there any type "household remedies"? If so, what would you recommend?

A: The best remedies for unplugging a stopped up bathroom sink drain would be using an electric snake machine. Your blockage (plug-up) is usually hair, dirt, and grease. Then flush-out and wash clean the drain line piping. We recommend using a plumbing company familiar with an electric snake machine.

Your Main Sewer and Branch Lines.

Most plumbing emergencies consist of mainly 2 situations. 1. Your sewer is backing up or leaking somewhere.  2. Your water system is leaking somewhere.

To deduce if your main sewer is plug-up, waste water will start to back up into your house from the main sewer line. Your main sewer line goes into the city sewer system or a septic tank system. The back-up typically will be observed coming into your bathtub or shower drain. 

Why your bathtub or shower drain? Because the drainage lines to those fixtures are the lowest in elevation in relation to your toilet and sinks. If this is the case stop using your plumbing fixtures because their will only add waste water to your bathtub and or shower.

To deduce if your plugged line is isolated e.g. kitchen sink, washing machine you will not see waste water coming into your tub/shower drains unless those fixtures are clogged on an individual basis.

Now your have a couple of choices, you can go rent a drain cleaner (snake) or call a license professional to clean that plug sewer or drain.

Most drain and sewer lines have what we call clean-outs (accesses to your drains and sewer lines which are typically located around the exterior of your home. Your main sewer line's cleanout is usually located in front of your house unless your on a septic system and will usually be a black color pipe with a cap or plug on the top.

If you deduced that the main sewer line is the line that is plugged-up you can relieve the build up pressure in your house by simply taking the cap or plug off the clean-out. However this waste water will spill out at its cleanout. Better spilling outside then inside.

Kitchen and laundry clean-outs will be located on the exterior of your home or at fixture it serves. Simply remove the cleanout's plug or cap to relieve pressure. Make sure you have a pan or bucket to catch the water that make still be in the fixture trap or compartment. 

Toilets and bath sinks along with tubs and showers do not have clean-out and have to be snake at their drains.

When to Fix and When to Replace?

"Can't you just fix it?" is a common cry of the homeowner when they learn that the cost of major repair for many home fixtures and appliances is close to the cost of replacement. 

Here are some things to consider in deciding whether repair or replacement might be the better option.

Furnace/Heat Pump/Boiler

These are the most costly systems to replace, so naturally you want to get as many years of use out of this equipment as you possibly can. The best way to do this is to make sure you have your system professionally serviced at least once a year. Many heating and cooling contractors offer service agreements that assure routine inspection and cleaning at least. Prices usually are a real bargain considering that a new home heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) system will cost many thousands.

Myriad repairs can be made on HVAC systems to keep them running for decades. Yet when a boiler section cracks, there's little that can be done except replace the entire unit. Likewise, central air conditioners and heat pumps have two major components - the indoor evaporator coil and the outdoor condensing unit (compressor) - that when they fail, cannot readily be fixed.

When one needs to be replaced, it is best to replace the other with a compatible unit. Unmatched evaporator coils and condensers usually will operate together for a time, but with a steep penalty in performance, energy usage and premature system failure. So although it entails higher initial cost, replacing both components at once is the smart thing to do in the long run.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that about half the time, people opt for the cheaper but shortsighted single unit replacement.

While HVAC systems ought to last for decades, it's not necessarily a bargain to keep them running that long. Tremendous strides have been made in energy efficiency in recent years, leading to quick cost paybacks from lower energy bills. The United Homeowners Association (UHA) is a Washington-based consumer organization that offers the following advice:

"If your furnace is over 15 years of age, it's probably time to boot it out the door... If your furnace's efficiency comes in somewhere in between 50-75%, you ought to begin investigating rebate offers for buying a high-efficiency new furnace."