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Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

Answering Your Most Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

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What is a Backflow Device?

A backflow device is simply a check valve. It allows the water to flow in one direction only. While there are several types of devices, their primary purpose is to allow the flow of water in only one direction.  It is used to protect potable water supplies from contamination or pollution due to backflow.

When do I know it's time for my Backflow test?

You will be advised by your local water or health department when it is time to have your device tested. It usually stays the same month every year, however, this is entirely controlled by the water or health department.

How often do I get my Backflow tested?

Generally you will only be required to test a device once a year. However if a device fails in some point and needs to be repaired, we are required to submit a Test Report after the repair is made.

How long does the Backflow test take to complete?

The actual “Test” only takes a short time, about 10-15 minutes.

Will the water be shut off during the backflow test?

YES, the water will be turned off for a brief time, depending on what the device serves.

Is Backflow Testing Required?

Numerous state regulations require all backflow prevention devices to be tested annually. These devices are required to keep the water that passes through them and into the plumbing system beyond them from coming back into the water supply, while protecting the quality and safety of the drinking water system. Just like the individual parts of your car, backflow prevention devices have parts that can break down and wear out. Annual backflow tests can help to ensure the drinking water supplied to your home remains safe.

Do I need to be present or home?

If it’s accessible (no locked gates, dogs, or obstructions) then No, you do not need to be home or present.

Do I need to send report into the City?

No, Treasure Valley Plumbing and Drain Cleaning will do that for you.


What can I put down the garbage disposal?

Food scraps, scrapings from your plates or pans, and some peelings should safely go through the garbage disposal.

When operating your disposal, follow these precautions:

  • Start running the water first, then drop your peelings down the disposal.
  • Continue running lots of water while putting anything down your disposal, and then continue running water for 20-30 seconds after disposing is complete and disposal is shut off.
  • The purpose for running all that water is to carry all of the ground up material from the kitchen drain (1 ½” – 2” diameter) to the 4” building sewer line, which may be 30-40 feet away.

Consider the condition and age of your drain system:

  • In new construction, the piping is likely ABS plastic, the fittings are smoother, and the grade is better, which allows the material from the disposal to be carried away much easier.
  • Many older homes were plumbed with Cast Iron or Galvanized pipes and are more prone to buildup and spots that may clog. Additionally, if the disposal is old, the cutters and parts may be worn and the grinding of material may be inadequate.
My disposal quit working. Is there anything that I can do to fix my garbage disposal?
  • If there is no sound or hum from the disposal, press the red “Reset” button on the bottom of the disposal unit.
  • If the disposal does not start, check the electrical panel to see if the breaker has tripped.
  • If the disposal hums but the cutter is not turning, something has probably jammed the blades. You can attempt to free the blades by using an allen wrench to turn the cutter flywheel from the bottom of the disposal.
  • If none of these solutions work, give us a call and we will service or replace the disposal unit.
Is having a garbage disposal on a septic tank system OK?

Yes, there is no reason not to have a garbage disposal on a septic tank system.

The newer garbage disposals on the market are more quiet and powerful and will help the finer chopped food debris to be flushed away easier.

Give us a call about the new line of disposals on the market.

I always get bad odors from my disposal. Is there something I can do to eliminate these odors?

Try the following:

  1. Run HOT water down the disposal for a couple minutes
  2. Shut water off and pour about a half cup of baking soda down the disposal
  3. Follow with a little white vinegar
  4. Allow the solution to foam in the disposal. This will clean the disposal and eliminate smells.
  5. Citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange peelings, put through the disposal will also help clean the disposal and it will make your kitchen smell good, too.

If none of these solutions work, give us a call and we will service or replace the disposal unit.


Why does my kitchen sink drain so slowly?
  • Sink drains are only 1 ½” -2” in diameter pipes and over time, soap, grease, and food debris may buildup in the line and cause slow drainage.
  • Kitchen drains are sometimes 30’-40’ away from the 4” main sewer line, so there could be low places in the line, or bad joints or elbow in the line where food debris or soap/grease buildup may gather and cause slow drainage.

If your kitchen drain is running slowly, give us a call and we can come out to get your drains running smoothly again.

Why am I standing in two inches of water when I’m showering?
  • Tub and bathroom sink drains are only 1 ½” – 2” in diameter and can get a buildup of soap, shampoo, oils, dirt, and hair over a period of time, which causes slow drainage or even backup.
  • These drains may be 10’-15’ away from the 4” main sewer line, so the possibility of low spots or bad connections could cause drainage problems.
  • Placing a strainer of some kind over the drain to catch hair or other objects could help to keep your tub drain running smoother longer and decrease the chances of backups.

Our small drain cleaning machine could clean and clear that buildup away. If you are standing in water during your shower, contact us and we will get your shower draining quickly again.

Why do I hear a gurgling sound when my washing machine empties?
  • When a washer drains, it forces a lot of water down the drain at one time. If the drain is not vented properly, air bubbles trying to escape the drain line will cause the gurgling sound.
  • Also, the drain line could be restricted by a buildup of soap and grease in the line.
  • All drains in the house need to have proper venting for smooth drainage.

If you are hearing gurgling when your washing machine empties, give us a call and we will determine what your exact problem is.

When I flush the toilet, why does water come up into my tub?
  • When a sewer line to the city or to a septic tank is plugged, any water flushed into the sewer line will come up in the lowest drain in the house, which is either a tub, shower, or floor drain.
  • The more water flushed down the system through toilets, washer, dishwasher, or sinks, the more water will come up at that lowest point.

Give us a call to clean your main sewer line between the house and the city or septic tank with our drain cleaning machine (Super Snake). We can clean that main sewer line through a cleanout, a pulled toilet, or a roof vent.

If you don’t have a cleanout installed outside your home, we are prepared to excavate and install one at ground level for you.

Why do I keep having drainage backups and problems over and over?

The age and condition of your home and sewer line could be the problem. The sewer pipe used in the past was either concrete, transite (a lighter concrete material), clay, or Orangeburg (made of layers of a tarpaper-like material).

  • Concrete and transite piping was a very porous material with very loose and unsealed connections, allowing roots to find openings into the pipes.
  • The Orangeburg piping blisters and bubbles over the years leaving the pipe sometimes totally restricted or collapsed.
  • Clay piping had joints every 3’ and those joints were very thin connections which allowed settling of the pipe in many spots, causing low spots and breaks or disconnections of joints.

Our SeeSnake Camera (Super Cam) allows us to video inspect the inside of your sewer line to evaluate the problem, whether it’s a break in the line, bad connections, or roots growing inside the line. Give us a call today. We can also determine the type of piping you have, the depth of the line, the length of the line, and which direction the line goes.

How can TVPD assist you with your slow sewer lines?

Call us and schedule a “Tour de’ Sewer” with our Super Cam. Our Camera saves you time, money, and the headache of guessing how to fix your sewer line. We’ll give you an estimate and a time frame and help that headache go away.


Why can’t I get my kitchen faucet to stop leaking?
  • All fixtures, kitchen and bath faucets, tub and shower faucets, and washer faucets, can leak at one time or another, and age and hardness of water are probably the cause.
  • The parts to these fixtures may have worn out and need replacing, faucet handles, cartridges, washer stems, seats, etc.
  • Many of these fixtures may be rebuilt. Sometimes, replacement parts are too hard to find, and it may be less expensive to replace the whole fixture.

If your kitchen faucet won't stop leaking, give us a call and we will repair or replace it.

Noisy Pipes

Sometimes I hear a clanging or rattling sound under my house. What is that?
  • The clanging sound is caused by the copper water supply piping under you house and it is called "water hammer," which is caused by the valves closing on the line.
  • The rattling noise of pipes is caused by copper piping not being properly supported under your house and is probably coming in contact with the wood joists or flooring under the house.

We can install a “Hammer Arrester” on the pipes which will eliminate that clanging sound. If the piping is old, we can also replace that copper piping with plastic Pex water supply piping that is more efficient and quiet.

If you've got clanking, clanging or rattling under your house, give us a call and we will quiet those pipes for you.

Radiant Heat Floors

My tile floor is so cold to walk on in the wintertime. I’ve heard there was some kind of plumbing that would fix that?

Radiant Heat is your answer. A Radiant Heat Flooring System has tubular piping placed under concrete or tile flooring and is hooked to a boiler system that runs hot water through the piping, heating the floor and creating a more efficient and comfortable heating system.

Sewer Lines

Why does water bubble up in the Toilet and Tub when I run my Washer?
  • The sewer line may be older from the building to the city main or your septic tank system may be having problems causing your sewer line to have a buildup of soap and grease.
  • The line may be restricted by roots growing in the line, a break in the line, a bad joint or connection, a low spot in the line, or foreign objects flushed down the system. Our big drain cleaning machine (Super Snake), with the proper size of cable and cutting head, can remove all the roots and buildup.
  • If the sewer has a lot of buildup and sludge, then our Hydro-jetting (Super Jet) is probably the answer.

Schedule a drain cleaning maintenance today as a practical solution to keeping your drains free flowing.

How do I know if my sewer line is the reason for frequent backups?

If you are experiencing frequent backups with your sewer line, we can run our SeeSnake (Super Cam) down the line for a video inspection to see if there are roots, a break, or a bad joint or connection in your sewer line.

With our video inspection, we can locate the problem and pinpoint the exact area and depth to excavate and repair the line. This inspection saves our customers time and money in solving the problem by eliminating the guess work of locating the problem.

If you are experiencing frequent backups, give us a call to schedule a Super Cam inspection.

Let TVPD help you with your slow sewer lines

Give us a call and schedule a maintenance service to run through and clean all the drains in the house at once, and get those drains running smoothly and without odors.

Sewer Odors

Sometimes I get a sewer gas smell in my house. Where is it coming from?
  • If you have a basement with a floor drain somewhere, the water in the p-trap at the bottom of that drain can evaporate, leaving an open line for sewer gas to escape into the house. Run some water into the drain to fill the trap back up.
  • If this drain doesn’t get used very often, you can put a little bit of oil (cooking) on top of the water after you have filled the trap, which will keep the water from evaporating or you can pour enough mineral oil in the drain to fill the trap, which will take a very long time to evaporate.

This application is for any other drain that may have the same problem. If it’s just a sink drain that may not be used very often, just run some water down the drain periodically.

Also, the sewer smell could be caused by a vent in the wall that is not connected properly and may be leaking sewer gas into the walls.

Give us a call and we can provide the service you need that will eliminate the problem.


When I flush the toilet, everything does not clear out of the bowl?

There can be several reasons for a toilet not flushing properly:

  • There may not be enough water moving from the tank to the bowl to clear it out, or the fill valve in the tank is not adjusted correctly.
  • The siphon jets under the edge of the bowl may be clogged with hard water deposits and may be restricting the amount of water flowing to the bowl.
  • There also may be an object stuck in the toilet, blocking the bowl from clearing.

If your toilet bowl is not clearing when you flush, give us a call and we will find out why.

Get a TVPD Toilet Tune-up to assure your toilet is working properly

We service all toilets and give them a “Toilet Tune-up,” where we will check for leaks and make sure all the parts of the toilet are working correctly.

Water Heaters

Why do we run out of hot water so quickly?

Depending on the age and type of your water heater, there are a couple of reasons you don’t have enough hot water:

  • Electric water heaters commonly have two heating elements, one on top and one on bottom. Either of these elements can stop working. If the bottom element goes out, only the top portion of the water heater is being heated. If the top element goes out, there will not be any hot water.
  • There is a reset button that could have been tripped causing the water heater to stop working. If that reset button has tripped, that is an indicator that something is wrong.

If your water heater is running out of hot water quicker than normal, give us a call and we will get you back in hot water fast!

How can TVPD keep you in hot water?

Our Plumbing Techs can diagnose, repair, or replace your water heater so you can enjoy your hot water longer. Contact us with your hot water issues...and we'll get that water hot again.

Water Pressure

Why does my kitchen faucet not have very much water pressure?
  • Your faucet may have a plugged aerator. You can remove the end of your faucet and clean out the little screen, then replace tightly back onto the faucet.
  • If you still have no water pressure, the water supply line could have a kink in it, or possibly the supply valve under the sink is not turned all the way on.
  • Depending on the type of piping, you could have a mineral buildup in your galvanized pipes, or with the newer piping types, you could have sand or gravel in the line from a well.
  • Sometimes the problem can only be remedied by re-piping the water supply lines under the house.

If your kitchen faucet has no water pressure, give us a call and we will come over to get your water pressure back up.

When we take a shower, why does the water pressure go way down when someone else turns on a faucet or flushes a toilet?
  • This problem is usually caused by the shower valve being a non-pressure balanced shower valve. The solution is to install a pressure balance shower valve. This usually happens in older homes with older plumbing.
  • Newer homes all have these pressure balancing shower valves installed.

If you have an older home with low water pressure when taking a shower and someone flushes a toilet, give us a call and we will install the a pressure balance shower valve.

When the water pressure just won't do...

Whatever your water pressure problem, our journeyman plumbers are equipped with a solution. Contact us and we will be there to get you some real water pressure.

Water Quality

How do I get rid of the bad taste in my water?

Bad tasting water has many causes, from older water pipes within your home to minerals and chemicals in the water.

  • Our water quality experts can install a Reverse Osmosis filtration system under your kitchen sink which will eliminate any bad smells or tastes in the water supplied to that faucet.
  • A Water softener can eliminate all those hard water deposits on your shower heads and faucets.

If you have bad tasting water, give us a call to discuss your water quality options.

Here's how TVPD can help you with your water quality issues...

Our Plumbing Techs can help you solve your water quality problems. Just contact us to schedule a visit to walk through your water quality options.

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