Question: Recently, my water bills appear to be rather high and none of the faucets appear to be leaking. What else could contribute to a high water bill?

Answer: You may want to check to see if a toilet is leaking. First, check the water level to ensure that water is not overflowing the tank by way of the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank that has tubing connected to it. If water is running into the overflow, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Second, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank to test the flush valve mechanism. If the water in the bowl changes color within 15 minutes, this is an indication that water is leaking into the toilet bowl and that the ball or flapper needs to be replaced. If this does not turn out to be the problem, it is time to call Apollo Plumbing to check the main water supply line running from your home or business.

Question: How often should I have my septic system inspected?

Answer: Septic systems should be inspected and pumped a minimum of once every three to four years. You may not be experiencing any problems now, but a full septic tank may allow unwanted solids to flow into the drain field, which is the part of the system that consists of a distribution box and a series of connected pipes. Each pipe allows water to flow into a bed of stone that drains into the ground. If paper and other solids flow into the drain field, it becomes blocked and ineffective. A blocked drain field is very costly to repair or replace.

Question: The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than what I think I need. How can I conserve energy, yet also be sure that there is an adequate amount of hot water?

Answer: Most people are comfortable with their hot water set at 120 degrees, which is also the new standard that manufacturers use when pre-setting it at the factory. If you have an older model, set the thermostat to medium. On a gas model, there is a dial on the front of the gas valve. On electric models, the thermostats are concealed behind the two panels on the side of the tank. Please note that you need to turn off the electricity before removing the panels. There are exposed wires behind the panels that contain very high voltage.

Question: I have a foul odor coming from my garbage disposer. What can I do to eliminate this odor?

Answer: Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposer. To eliminate this odor, you need to place ice cubes and lemon or orange peels in the disposer and let it run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposer while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all of the debris away.

Question: I am getting a foul odor from a bathroom in the basement. We hardly ever use this bathroom, except when we have company. This is embarrassing. What can we do?

Answer: Plumbing systems are designed to prevent foul odors from entering the house by means of the trap attached to fixtures. Traps contain water to seal out foul odors; if the water seal evaporates, the odors enter the house. To solve this problem, pour a bucket of water in each trap, sink, shower, and floor drain. This will prevent the odors from entering the house.

Question: We live in northern Ohio. Winters are cold and we were told to turn off the outside faucets in the fall before the freezing weather arrives. We did this, however, the pipes leading to our outside faucet still froze and broke. What did we do wrong?

Answer: Turning off the water is not enough. You must also disconnect the garden hose connected to the faucet to allow the water in the pipe to drain out. This will allow the piping to withstand the cold weather. It is always a good idea to provide your pipes with added protection during cold months by purchasing weather proofing materials. These can easily be found at your local hardware or home goods stores.

Question: My shower head and faucet aerators have a buildup of a white substance around the area where the water comes out. Is there anything I can do other than replace them?

Answer: The unsightly buildup is mineral deposits. To remove these deposits from the shower head, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the shower head and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight.