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Top 5 Questions People Ask Plumbers

ask plumbers BrownsPlumbing is a mostly ignored subject, until it becomes a problem. Out of sight…out of mind. A lot of people think their pipes are probably fine, but are not quite sure. Others know they have a problem, but put off finding the solution. Either way, it’s best to be ready for anything to gain a preventative edge. That’s why we asked the professional technicians at Brown’s to answer the top 5 questions people ask plumbers.

With so many great questions we receive every day, it was hard to narrow it down to just five. So, be on the lookout for part two!

Let’s dive in.

1. How do I know if I have a hidden leak?

If you think you have a leak in your pipes, there’s actually an easy way to check. Find your water meter and record the level. Make sure the water is not used for at least a few hours and then go back and record the level on the meter again. Or better yet, check it at night right before you go to bed and then record it again in the morning. If you see a difference in the levels, there’s a good chance you have a hidden leak.

If you suspect a water leak in your home, it is imperative to call for service as soon as possible in order to prevent potential damage to your property.

2. What Causes Brown Water? And Is It Dangerous?

Does your tap water look a bit like a mucky river after a rainstorm? Understandably, it can be alarming to see brown water coming out of the kitchen or bathroom faucet. Cloudy or discolored water can be due to a number of reasons, such as a nearby construction project that has disrupted the ground (and your water supply) or it could also be due to a failing hot water heater. While discoloration is not always dangerous, it is usually a notorious sign that your water supply has become compromised.

If you’re unsure, let us help you diagnose the problem and get your water back to running like normal.

3. Why is My Water Bill So High?

If your water bills have been creeping up, it may not be solely due to the rising cost of utilities. If you notice a jump in your water bill, it could mean that you have a major (or even minor) plumbing problem. The most common reason we see for an increase in water bills is due to leaky faucets, pipes or a silently leaking toilet. At 60 water drops per minute (approximately one every second), you could be wasting just over 2,000 gallons of water a year. Don’t ignore a simple repair when you hear that constant drip, drip, drip.

And be sure to pay attention to your water bill, because a large spike could indicate that there is a hidden leak underground (see #1).

4. Should I repair or replace my hot water heater?

When well-maintained, a gas water heater could last upwards of 12 years and an electric water heater should last up to 15 years. A tankless hot water heater could last up to twenty years! But, if your hot water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, and you start noticing insufficient hot water, flooding around the base of your water heater, rust-colored water, etc., it may be time for a replacement. However, if your water heater is only a few years old, a repair may be the way to go.

A good rule to keep in mind is that if any repair costs more than 50% of what it would cost to replace the unit, then you should replace it, rather than repair it.

5. What Can I Put Down My Drain?

Not as much as you may think. Putting things down the drain may seem convenient at the time – until you have to call a plumber.

Think twice before putting these items down the drain if you want to keep things running smoothly:

Don’t Wash These Down Your Kitchen Sink

  • Grease – Sticky fats from cooked meat, oil, butter and dairy can stick to the insides of pipes and lead to blockages. Always scrape the excess into the trash can before doing the dishes.
  • Rice/Pasta – These kinds of foods expand when they’re wet and can clog up drain pipes. Also, any food made with semolina flour can gum up and get extra sticky in pipes.
  • Food Particles – Seeds, eggshells, fibrous foods, potato peelings…even the smallest pieces of food can attach themselves to other waste in the pipes and cause clogs.
  • Coffee Grounds – Contrary to what you may have heard, coffee grounds are the main reason, apart from grease, for clogged drain pipes.
  • Chemicals – Cleaning products that contain phosphates and antibacterial agents are harmful to the environment and water ecosystems.
  • Produce Stickers – All those tiny stickers you find on fruit and veggies…put them in the trash can. They can get stuck to other debris or the sides of your drains leading to bigger problems down the road.


It all adds up.

If you think you are exempt because you have a garbage disposal, think again. Check out this list of what you should never put in your garbage disposal.

Think Again About Flushing That

  • Cat Litter – Although some cat litter manufacturers may claim that their natural litter is flushable, don’t do it!
  • “Flushable” Wipes – Even though the label says “flushable,” you should be concerned about what happens next. Unlike toilet paper, wipes do not disintegrate in water which means they stay intact as they travel through the sewer pipes. End result? They’ll get caught up on roots or other debris, causing a clogged sewer line.
  • Condoms – Condoms made from latex won’t disintegrate in water which means they will probably end up in the ocean, posing a threat to marine life.
  • Dental Floss – Floss, cotton balls, Q-tips…while these little pieces might seem innocent enough to toss in your bowl, they have been known to cause some serious sewer and pump issues.


The only things that should be flushed down your toilet is water, toilet paper and solid or liquid waste. Trash goes in the trash can.

Have More Plumbing Questions? Call Brown’s

While we’re on the subject of common questions, can you guess the one thing our plumbers wished every New Jersey homeowner knew? Where their main plumbing shutoff valve is located.

Not sure? Go find out now. Think about it, if it takes you 15 minutes to find the water valve to cut it off, over 300 gallons of water will have flowed into your home. So, rather than scrambling if an emergency does happen — get prepared to stop a leak in its tracks while you wait for your plumber to arrive.

Whether you’re a Monmouth County resident or business owner, Brown’s professional air conditioning technicians have the knowledge and experience you need to ensure your plumbing concerns are handled professionally and quickly all year long. Offering flat rate pricing, warranty-backed repairs and convenient service agreements, we are also available 24/7 for all your heating, cooling and plumbing emergency needs.

Call us at 732-741-0694 or contact us online for any plumbing questions.