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Q: My pipes rattle when I run water in certain parts of my house. It's very annoying. Is there anything I can do?
A: Yes, there is. The number 1 reason pipes vibrate is because of an old Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV). Code requires any dwelling with over 80 psi being delivered have a PRV installed. Most houses have about 60 psi or are reduced by a PRV to around 55-60 psi. Not to get too technical, but PRV's contain a diaphragm that begins to wobble after several years. This wobbling or vibrating is what you hear. The average life of a PRV is about 10-12 years. Most of the time replacing this device will solve the problem. There are some cases where the PRV is not the problem. Some of the old style toilet ballcocks also use a diaphragm in their design. They too can cause a similar vibration. If all else fails a Water Hammer Arrestor can be installed. It is basically a shock absorber for your water pipes. Just call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain and we will locate the problem and correct it.



Q: Which is better? Copper or CPVC?
A: Neither. They are both dependable and are very effective when installed properly. Copper comes in 3 grades: M (thinnest), L (medium), and K (very thick). In Maryland plumbers are supposed to use at least "L" grade copper. I can tell you with certainty that very little "K" copper is being installed. It is extremely expensive and mostly unnecessary. CPVC is an abbreviation for Chloro-Poly-Vinyl-Chloride. It is similar to PVC except that a chlorine molecule has been added to give it the ability for higher temperatures. (i.e., hot water.) CPVC is especially useful if you get your water from a well, since wells typically have a high mineral content and tend to compromise copper faster. CPVC is also very valuable when repiping a dwelling, eliminating the need to use a torch for soldering copper pipes together. No torch means greater safety.



Q: If copper is so good why does it get pinholes? Last year my copper pipes got pinholes on 2 separate occasions.
A: Copper pipe is good, very good, but it is not impervious. There are some elements in your water that cling to the copper pipes and react with them. Over long periods of time they wear away the copper until a pinhole is developed. There are however some things that can speed up the process. First, if your house has the lowest grade copper installed, "M" copper (it has red lettering on it), there is less copper thickness in the walls of the pipe. Second, the higher mineral content in the water delivered by your purveyor, the faster the copper will wear away. Third, if you have different metals in contact with your copper, electrolysis can occur, causing a wearing away of the copper. Fourth, if you have any green spots on your copper it is probably residue left behind from the original installation and can become weak points in your copper. When plumbers solder pipes together they use a paste called flux to help the solder flow freely, If they fail to wipe the flux off after soldering, the remaining acid can cause thinning of the copper over long periods of time. If your pipes are in need of repair please call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain today.



Q: I have several shut-off valves in my house and everytime I turn one of the handles it drips. Do I need to replace the valve?
A: Not necessarily. Many valves will drip when turned. Some will continue to drip even after you've stopped turning them. Others only drip while you're turning the handle. Almost all valves have what's called a "packing nut" around the stem of the valve. The stem is the straight piece that the handle is connected to. Under these nuts is a gasket that "chokes" the stem to keep water from dripping out. Over time these gaskets become settled in their position and upon turning the stem, they leak. Most of the time you can take a crescent wrench or other tool and tighten the packing nut. By the way, it's called a packing nut because the gasket is called "packing." By tightening the packing nut you are pressing the packing around the stem tighter, regaining the effective seal.



Q: I have a problem with my pipes freezing in the winter. Any advice?
A: Plain and simple: If your pipes are exposed to the cold they will freeze. There are several things to do. 1) Insulate any openings to prevent the intrusion of cold air. 2) Get heat to the pipes if possible. 3) If you have a shut-off to that particular pipe turn off the water to that pipe and drain it. (This is usually the case if you have an outside spigot.) 4) Heat tape can be purchased at your local hardware store, wrapped around the pipe (candy cane style), and plugged in to an electric outlet to provide added warmth to the pipe.




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