Plumbing FAQs: 5 of the Most Common Questions Plumbers Hear

Have a plumbing issue but not sure what it is? Check this list of the most frequently asked questions heard by our plumbers.

There’s a black ring forming on the floor around the toilet. What is this?

Black rings that form around the base of the toilet is an indication that the wax ring seal between the toilet and the floor is leaking. The source of the color is usually a black mold or bacteria. The problem will only be fixed by removing the toilet and replacing the old wax ring gasket with a new one.

What’s causing the pink stain or residue buildup in my tub?

Pink and orange stains generally mean there is iron in the water. If your home has a well, it needs a water softener or some other type of filter to remove minerals that naturally occur in the water table from getting into the pipes. Get the water tested to make sure.

I’m seeing a white buildup in the areas where water comes out on the faucets and shower head. Do I have to replace them?

No. This is simply a buildup of mineral deposits. If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals to clean it up, fill a plastic bag with a bit of vinegar, secure it over the shower head or faucet, and leave it there overnight. In the morning, you should then be able to scrub away the deposits with an old toothbrush.

My water heater’s pilot light won’t light, but it’s still new and there’s no residue in the tank.

This is often the result of a bad thermocouple. That’s the little electric generator that creates the current to hold open the magnetic gas valve in the control unit. If the unit can’t sense heat at the pilot light, it will keep shutting itself off. Replacing the thermocouple usually solves the problem.

My kitchen sink smells like a sewer when I use the dishwasher.

A sewer smell when using the dishwasher is usually a sign of a blockage in the drain or vent of the pipes in the wall. When a vent gets clogged, the water is forced to run up to the roof instead of into the city system – which means the air in those vents has to be pushed aside. That air is combined with sewer gas and creates that smell.