Ask Vince #10 Cold water, shut-off valves, re-pipe

Cold water, shut-off valves, re-pipe

QUESTION: My mother’s half-bath lost its cold water over a year ago. There’s still hot water at the sink, but no cold water either there or at the toilet. I can understand losing hot water from the water heater, but cold water? There don’t seem to be leaks anywhere – if there were, the yard would show it, wouldn’t it? There is a crawl space under the house with no apparent standing water. Could the pipes be clogged, even though this bathroom was added after the original construction? Can you tell what may have happened to the cold water?
R.F. Wright, Sacramento

ANSWER: “The first thing you should do is make sure the shut-off valves for both fixtures are in an open position,” advises Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. “It is possible that someone may have turned them off. Even though it is unusual, your mother may have a valve on the cold water pipe for that bathroom, which was installed when the bath was added on. If so, make sure the valve is open. If all the valves are open and still no water, I would say it is time to call your plumber,” McDonald says. “My guess is that you have a stoppage in the pipe that prevents the water from coming through to the fixtures. The plumber will need to further diagnose the problem and possibly flush out the pipes or change them with a new pipe.

More Information on Locating the Shut-Off Water Valvein Your Sacramento Home or Office

Almost all water meters have one main shutoff valve directly before the meter and another directly after. Where the meter is located depends on the climate in your area.

In cold climates, the meter and main shutoff valves are located inside, usually in a basement or other warm area to prevent freezing. In milder climates, the meter and its two shutoff valves may be attached to an exterior wall or nestled in an underground box with a removable lid.

Between the water main in the street and the meter, there’s also usually a buried curb stop valve (accessible only by city workers wielding special long-handled wrenches) and a corporation stop, where your house water line hooks up to the water main. Your city absolutely doesn’t want you messing around with these last two valves. They prefer you turn your water off or on using the main valve on the house side of the meter. This valve will normally be a gate-type valve, with a round knurled handle, requiring several full clockwise rotations to turn off. In newer homes, it could be a ball valve.

In addition, most houses built today have small, localized shutoff valves called fixture supply stopsinstalled on the supply lines leading to toilets, faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, water softeners and water heaters. These supply stops usually have a small round or oval handle that you turn clockwise two to four full turns to shut off the flow of water.

Many older homes have them only at toilets, if at all. This can lead to great family discord, since working on a single drippy faucet can require shutting off water to the entire house at the main valve, leaving everyone shower-less, flush-less and waterless. With supply valves, you can turn off the water to a single fixture while fixing or replacing that faucet.

If your plumbing system lacks supply stops, install them when you shut off the main valve to repair a sink, toilet or appliance. Eventually you’ll have supply stops at every fixture, and your family won’t yell at you every time they see you with a wrench in your hand. Remember, fixture supply stops must be easily accessible; you can’t drywall or plaster over them without installing an access panel to reach them.

Contact McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento to Determine Your Shut-Off Value vs. Re-piping Needs

Since 1957 McDonald Plumbing, Heating Air Conditioning has been providing plumbing and heating repairs and installations to Sacramento residents and businesses, including new, tankless water heaters. We also serve Sacramento and the surrounding communities with a full line of plumbing, heating and air conditioning repairs such as tankless and regular water heater installation and repair, air conditioning installation and repair, home energy audits, home comfort systems, sewer and drain cleaning, sewer and water line repair and repair of slab leaks.

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the seat of government of Sacramento County. It is at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California’s expansive Central Valley. With an estimated 2011 population of 477,891, it is the sixth-largest city in California and the 35th largest city in the United States. Sacramento is the core cultural and economic center of the Sacramento metropolitan area which includes seven counties with an estimated 2009 population of 2,527,123. Its metropolitan area is the fourth largest in California after the Greater Los Angeles Area, San Francisco Bay Area, and the San Diego metropolitan area, as well as the 27th largest in the United States. In 2002, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University conducted for TIME magazine named Sacramento “America’s Most Diverse City.

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