Frequently Asked Questions

Check out our FAQs below with answers from a few of our plumbing experts on the Milestone Team!

Clogged drains are a major inconve­nience and there are many possible causes. Lots of people are surprised to hear that something as simple as toothpaste residue and soap scum can build up over time. And of course, hair can cause problems by accumu­lating in a tub or shower drain. The good news is that there are many ways to prevent clogs. First, use a hair catcher in your tub or shower (you’ll find many products available), and simply clear the catcher after each use to allow an easy flow of water into the drain. When using your bathroom sink, use enough water to flush the soap residue completely through the pipes. Filling your sink with water now and then and letting it drain down can help flush the pipes, too. Make sure you use a stopper to prevent toothpaste caps, bobby pins, and other items from falling down the drain. Chemical drain cleaners are not advised because they can harm your pipes! But environment-friendly enzyme products work well if used regularly. 

-Kevin, Service Plumber

No, not if it’s a chemical drain cleaner. Even one that says safe for pipes” can cause damage to drain systems both in your home and within your municipality’s piping system. These chemicals are very corrosive and will weaken your pipes, especially if sitting in a clogged or slow-moving drain. There are other downsides, as the fumes can be harmful, and we’ve seen clients mix different chemical products that can be hazardous. If you’re interested in preventing clogs, there are other easy steps to take including enzyme drain products, which are natural and safe. But stubborn clogs or chronically slow-moving drains might require a plumber’s help, especially if the problem is deep in the pipes.

-Dan, Service Plumber

It might be something easy to fix yourself. First, always use caution. Turn off the power before you try to troubleshoot or service the disposal. If the disposal doesn’t make any noise when you flip the switch, double-check the power source — sometimes the plug under the sink can come loose. If it still makes no noise when turned on, try pressing the reset button, which is usually a small, red, square button located at the very base of the disposal. Still not working? Unplug the disposal and use an Allen wrench, which is a simple L‑shaped tool that comes with a disposal (it’s also easy to find in any hardware store). The Allen wrench can be fitted into a hole at the base of the disposal in the center. Turn it back and forth until you can rotate the wrench in a circle. This might dislodge anything that’s jamming the blades of the disposal. Always use caution when removing something from the disposal and make sure the disposal is turned off and unplugged if possible. If none of these steps work, it might be a more challenging problem or your disposal simply might need replacing. Do not worry — we are happy to help!

-Katie and Trina, Administrative Assistants

If you count on a shower to start your day, this is can be a major frustration. The first thing to check is the showerhead. Remove it and look inside for a washer with a screen. If the screen is full of sediment, clean it out to remove the restriction. Hopefully, that will fix the problem. Before reinstalling the showerhead, an important trick to try is turning the water on to flush out any sediment that might still be in the shower riser pipe. Pressure still not great? The cartridge in your shower faucet might need replacing next. If these steps don’t do the trick, the problem could be more complicated — especially in homes with old plumbing that often have pipes that are clogged with rust and sediment. When in doubt, give us a call we’ll help!

-Adam, Service Plumber

As crazy as it sounds, this can happen with any kind of drain or vent pipe. But it’s more frequently a problem with old clay and cast-iron pipes, which are more prone to small cracks or loose joints where the pipe sections come together. Roots love moisture, especially nutrient-rich moisture, and even the smallest leak or crack can invite tiny tendrils to come inside where, over time, they grow larger. Roots not only impede the flow of waste, but they can catch insoluble items that can get stuck and cause further blockages. Especially wipes! Even though they’re called flushable wipes,” they can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. How do you know if there are roots inside your pipes? If you have a floor drain or toilet in the basement that isn’t draining well, or that gurgles, it could mean the pipes leading from the basement into the ground are blocked. If this problem becomes chronic, we can advise you about preventive maintenance to avoid continued damage from root blockages. We also can help scope the drain for visual confir­mation of what is occurring and the severity of the issue.

-Charlie, Service Plumber

That’s an annoying noise, isn’t it? There are two common causes of this problem, but you can fix both to prevent wasted water resulting in high water bills. One is a faulty flapper” or flush valve seal inside the tank. When it isn’t functioning properly, this seal lets water continually escape from the tank and into the bowl. As the tank empties, the fill valve keeps letting more water into the tank. The second common cause is a faulty fill valve, which can be caused by accumulated debris or calcium buildup. When this happens, it can continually allow water to seep into the tank and flow into the overflow tube, which leads to the toilet bowl. In both cases, replacing the faulty mechanisms will fix the problem. Want to know a quick trick to check if your toilet is experi­encing an issue? Put a few drops of food coloring into the tank (we recommend Milestone Blue 😊) and leave it for 10 to 20 minutes before checking. If the color has transferred into the bowl after letting it sit, there is a leak that is allowing water to transfer. If no color is present, your toilet tank is holding water through the seals properly. If you try this trick it’s important to remember to flush the toilet a few times until the color is fully gone from the tank so that no staining occurs.

-Luke, Service Plumber

Bummer! High water bills are no fun, but there are simple ways to check for leaks. The easiest is to inspect every faucet in your house for drips. If you’re not sure whether or not the faucet is leaking, put a bowl in the sink under the faucet spout and check back in an hour or so to see if water has accumulated (you might be surprised!). The next thing to check is your toilets. If they are running, this can be a major waste of water, too. Check out our tip under Why is my toilet always running” for an easy way to test. If you have outdoor faucets, don’t forget to check those, too. When hoses are attached, you might not notice a leak as easily, so we recommend discon­necting the hoses while monitoring. Another good idea is to walk around your basement and look at the exposed piping. Do you notice any moisture or dripping that’s not easily explained? This could be a sign there’s a slow, hidden leak that needs to be addressed. Issues left unattended could cause bigger problems. Milestone can help repair leaks, preserve a precious resource, and help you save money!

-Alex, Service Plumber

Great question! Along with clogged bathroom sinks, this can be a common problem unless you take some simple precautions. At the top of the precaution list: Don’t use your sink to toss out your trash! This is true even if you have a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals are OK for plate-rinsing scraps, but we do not recommend much else. Potato peels, grease, eggshells, trimmings from meat and vegetables, salad greens, coffee grounds, pasta and rice are among the many items people send down the disposal and drain, but they can do a lot of harm — especially in large quantities. These items tend to get caught at the various changes in direction inside of your drain system and can lead to repairs. Another tip: use enough water to flush things through the pipes. If you fill your sink to wash dishes by hand, the water released down the drain will do a nice job. If you don’t, try filling the sink and releasing water a few times a month. If you already have backups, you may be past the prevention phase. Give us a call and we can help!

-Kevin, Service Plumber