Ask Danny | Ep. 22: Low Water Pressure and Other Plumbing Predicaments (Part 1)

Ask Danny | Ep. 22: Low Water Pressure and Other Plumbing Predicaments (Part 1)

This week, Artie McGowan, master plumber and owner of Colony Plumbing in Mobile, Ala., joins me to provide solutions to some of the most common plumbing problems, like low water pressure and clogged drains.  

He’s a long-time friend of mine who’s also done hundreds of jobs for my construction company. 

Open chrome faucet wash basin with low water pressure
Increasing the water pressure on a sink faucet might be as simple as cleaning the aerator. (Koldunova_Anna, Getty Images)

Low Water Pressure

If a homeowner is experiencing low water pressure, what would be the likely cause?

Artie: Well sometimes, it might just be that ol’ cousin Earl parked his truck over your water meter and squished the line. But more often than not it’s something else.

First, take a look at where the problem is. In the kitchen bathroom sink or lavatory, sometimes debris comes up through the water and gets into the faucet aerator to slow it down or almost clog it. 

Cleaning the faucet aerator should solve the problem.

Some houses are a bit more complicated and have a water pressure-reducing valve that comes right off the meter. When it does, it goes bad over the years. It’s best to let a professional repair this because most of the time it has to be replaced.

If you need to replace a 3/4-inch supply line, is there any advantage to stepping that up to a 1-inch line?

Artie: The best thing to do is to increase it. This will give you a little bit more velocity at the faucet.

When the water’s running through, let’s say if you run it through a small half-inch line, once the fixture starts delivering that water, the pressure drops really quickly.

The larger pipe you have, the more volume of water you have. It’s less likely to drop in pressure, especially if it’s a long run to the house. 

What would you say is the right PSI going to a house?

Artie: The optimal water pressure I prefer is 75 PSI on a three-quarter line. Most city water is about that PSI, some of it is in the 60s and 50s, depending on how new the system is.

On wells, most of the time it’s about 45 PSI, but you can increase it. A well has a pressure holding tank, so you can have a little bit lower pressure at the pump, but that tank will keep it up.

Tap water pouring over a drain
Occasionally, sinks clog, and when that happens, you don’t need to call a handyman or plumber to fix the problem. (laymul, Getty Images)

Slow Draining

We get a lot of questions about how to fix a slow-draining sink or tub. What is the common cause?

Artie: If you run the water and it backs up immediately, the clog is between the top of the sink and the bottom of the trap. It’s more likely hair catching on a trip lever that operates the pop-up valve. Easily fix this by removing the pop-up valve and pulling the hair out with needle-nose pliers.

Watch: How to Remove Standing Water From a Clogged Sink

But, if you run the water and it takes about 30 seconds for it to fill up, the problem is down the line in the drain. It could be five, six, or 10 feet away from where you are. If that’s the case, you use a liquid drain cleaner with high sulfuric acid content. You can easily find this type because it’s packaged double — in a bottle and also in a bag. 

Follow the directions, and wear the proper safety equipment, like glasses and gloves. You should let it sit in the drain for about 30 minutes.

If it doesn’t work, then call a professional to route it out with an auger. 

Closeup, overhead view of a toilet, mid-flush, as cash goes down the drain
A running toilet wastes a lot of water and costs you a lot of cash. (DepositPhotos)

Running Toilet

Another common question we receive is that their toilet seems to be constantly running. What’s the cause/solution for that?

Artie: This means there’s a problem with the flush valve, the apparatus that holds the flapper. 

Most times, you need to replace the flapper, but sometimes it could be a crack in the flush valve and water is finding its way into the bowl. 

You can do the food coloring test to check for leaks. Then, you know the problem is in the flush valve and flapper area. 

There are many products out there that make flapper replacement easy. For instance, Fluidmaster’s 502 PerforMAX Water-Saving, Adjustable Flapper offers a customized flush. To use it, you just have to turn the dial left for more water per flush, or right for less, depending on your needs.

Watch: How to Fix a Running Toilet 

The good thing about plumbing today is that it’s become so user-friendly because of products like Fluidmaster’s. I use their flappers, fill valves and flush valves often because I’ve had so much success with them.

Further Reading

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | November 26, 2022

Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | November 26, 2022

This week, we’re featuring some of the best segments that have aired over the past year on the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show. Listen to hear some of our favorite segments, as well as these Simple Solutions.

Simple Solutions

How to Condition Leather: Leather shoes, boots and furniture take a beating from moisture so it’s important to treat them with mink oil or leather conditioning cream.

The problem is that these substances are very thick and difficult to absorb into the leather.

The solution is to heat the leather with a blow dryer before rubbing in the conditioner.

The oil/cream liquefies as soon it hits the heated surface, which helps drive it deep into the leather grain.

Watch: Easy Tip for Leather Conditioner

How to Easily Spray-Paint Small Parts: Spray-painting small parts is much easier with an inexpensive plastic turntable.

Just place the object to be painted in the center of the turntable and rotate the turntable with one hand as you spray the revolving item.

Want more? Watch ‘How to Spray Paint Screws, Latches, Braces and Brackets’

How to Get the Most Out of Your Nail Apron: Here are three ways to improve the simple cloth nail apron.

  1. When using a hammer holster, thread the apron string through the holster slot twice; that way, it won’t slide off the string every time you take off the apron.
  2. Before tying off the apron strings, thread them through the belt loop on the back of your pants. That will keep the apron from slipping down.
  3. Attach a key fob onto your utility knife so it’ll be easier to grasp and pull from the apron.

Best New Products

Never lose track of parts again! The Werner 6-ft. ladder features a magnetic tray, so nuts, bolts, screws and nails — anything metal — stay put. Learn more >>

Further Reading

Radio Show & Podcast: Send us your question!

If you have a comment, general question about home improvement, or something we’ve featured on Today’s Homeowner, please fill in this form:

Expanding Outdoor Living Space With a  Poured Concrete Patio

Expanding Outdoor Living Space With a  Poured Concrete Patio

This week, a poured concrete patio turns a decaying patio into an outdoor living space this homeowner can truly love.

Gretchen Bayley lives alone in her mid-century home, but the house is always full of friends and family. We’re transforming her old, crumbling patio into an outdoor living space to give her more room to entertain.

The Projects

Overhead view of a badly damaged and aged paver patio
There’s no saving these disintegrating pavers on this patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Prepare for Poured Concrete Patio

A large, poured concrete patio is a project best left to the professionals, but prepping the area and creating the forms can be done yourself.

Part of a concrete slab form featuring a wood 2-by-4 board and stake
The 2-by-4s create a form for the poured concrete patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

First, frame the area 12-by-23-foot area with 2-by-4s. Place the boards level with the existing carport concrete slab, then slope slightly downward so water will flow away from the carport.

Use a framing square to ensure each corner is at a 90-degree angle. To keep the form boards in place, screw them to evenly spaced wooden 2-by-4 stakes.

We use a masonry line to make sure the depth of the newly poured concrete patio will match the existing one. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Once the final form board is installed, check the depth across the space to ensure there’s enough depth to use the old patio as a foundation and pour the new slab directly over it.

(Because the pavers are below the top edge of the carport concrete slab, we don’t need to dig them up.)

Finally, lay the reinforcement wire.  

Rusted steel reinforcement wire over aged pavers
Steel reinforcement wire adds strength to the newly poured concrete patio. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Once the forms are complete, a professional concrete finisher pours the slab. As the forms fill up, we tap the outside of them to release the air bubbles trapped in the concrete. 

Overhead view of a concrete finisher using a bull float to smooth the surface of a freshly poured slab.
The concrete finisher moves a bull float over the freshly poured slab to smooth the surface. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

The concrete finisher uses special tools to smooth the top of the slab and create expansion joint lines to prevent cracking. 

Once the concrete has cured for a bit, we drag a broom over it to create a textured finish.

White picket fence with a gate and black latch next to a carport
The new picket fence has a functioning gate that’s easier to open and close. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Add Picket Fence Panels

Gretchen’s improvised roll fencing serves its purpose of containing her dogs in the backyard, but it’s not pretty. So, we’re adding some prettier (and sturdier) white picket fence panels.

Hands placing a post anchor on a concrete slab
This post anchor allows us to secure the fence right onto the concrete slab. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Instead of using a zip tie to keep the fence closed, we’re adding a gate at the corner of the carport to offer easier access to the new patio. To secure the post for the gate, we place it in a post anchor that can be drilled into the concrete. 

Outdoor entertainment area featuring bar seating and a TV
The new outdoor entertainment area features bar seating and an adjustable TV. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Create Entertainment Area

Two large, empty shelves are wasting space in Gretchen’s carport. So, we remove the top one to make room for an outdoor TV and use the bottom one for bar seating. 

Drop cloth curtains in a carport next to a white picket fence
These drop cloth curtains give this outdoor entertainment area warmth, texture, and the option for privacy. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

To create even more separation between the carport and the new outdoor entertainment area, Chelsea hangs drop-cloth curtains.

The curtains not only add some extra texture to the space but they also can be closed to hide Gretchen’s car when she’s entertaining. 

Watch: How to Dye Drop Cloths for Patio Curtains

We also:

  • Spray-painted the firepit and grill 
  • Removed extra column

Chelsea Lipford Wolf and Danny Lipford pose with homeowner Gretchen Bayley.
Chelsea Lipford Wolf and Danny Lipford pose with homeowner Gretchen Bayley. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Post-Production Thoughts

Even though it was a good size, Gretchen’s patio was decades past its prime. The crumbling pavers were more than unattractive — they were downright dangerous. 

The roll fencing added along the edge to contain the dogs wasn’t helping the look of the space either. There was nothing about this outdoor living space that invited you to enjoy the spacious backyard.

But now, the new poured concrete patio that replaced the old patio is both stable and attractive. Its clean edges clearly define the space, while it flows almost seamlessly into the existing covered area. 

The new fence suits the yard perfectly and its new location creates the ideal boundary between the carport and the covered patio area. 

Chelsea’s curtains help reinforce that line while they soften the edges and add refinement. What was an overbuilt shelf has become a modest bar top and the refurbished patio furniture creates plenty of comfortable seating to enjoy the expansive backyard. 

Other Tips From This Episode

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

More Inspiration

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Pouring a Concrete Slab

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Pouring a Concrete Slab

Pouring a concrete slab can be a challenging job. Poor planning and lazy execution will result in a structurally deficient slab that also looks bad.

For a slab that will last for decades, avoid these five common mistakes many make when pouring a concrete slab.

Slightly sloping the concrete slab form allows for drainage. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

1. Not Sloping the Forms

When you’re planning a concrete slab, it’s important to consider drainage. If it’s exposed to the elements, the slab should have enough slope so water can drain off of it.

For example, in the video above, we want the new concrete patio to be flush with an existing slab, so we slope the forms in the opposite direction by about one or two percent.

Concrete patio slabs should be at least four inches thick. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

2. Pouring the Slab Too Thin

It’s also important that a slab be thick enough to be durable.

The thickness depends on what you’ll be using the slab for. Concrete driveways and patios need to be at least 4 inches thick, whereas concrete countertops only need to be one and a half inches thick.

In the video above, we want this patio to be at least 3-1/2 inches thick because we’re pouring the concrete over old pavers. So, we use a 2-by-4 gauge block to ensure we have that clearance. 

Steel reinforcement wire helps to keep the concrete slab from crumbling. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

3. Forgetting Reinforcement

Concrete slabs are high in compressive strength, which makes them great at resisting compression forces and impact. But when it comes to tensile strength, or the capacity to resist pulling-apart forces, concrete doesn’t fare as well, according to

This is where steel reinforcement wire can help. Steel reinforcement provides additional structural support for concrete slabs. This is especially important if it will be exposed to heavy traffic.

Tapping the forms with a hammer releases trapped air bubbles. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

4. Leaving Trapped Air Bubbles

It’s not uncommon for air bubbles to develop inside the slab as the concrete is poured. So, it’s a good idea to tap the exterior of the forms to help release them and improve the slab’s strength. 

Expansion joints make cracks due to shrinkage less noticeable. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

5. Not Adding Expansion Joints

As the concrete cures, it will shrink some and may crack. To accommodate for this shrinkage, use a concrete groover to add some expansion joints as the slab cures. This way, if the slab expands, it’s more likely to do it inside these shallow grooves, where it mars the finished surface of the slab. 

Further Reading

Ryobi’s Magnifying Glass Has Light Clamps to Stay Put

Ryobi’s Magnifying Glass Has Light Clamps to Stay Put

If you work on projects with small parts, the biggest challenge can be seeing what you’re working on. Ryobi’s solved this dilemma with its new clamping magnifying glass with light.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Ryobi ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Glass with Light examining a U.S. quarter
The ring light around Ryobi’s magnifying glass has 500 Lumens of LED light output. (The Home Depot)

Customized Lighting

The RYOBI ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Clamp Light is ideal for technicians, inspectors, collectors, hobbyists, crafters, readers, and more. 

The magnifying glass with light has 500 Lumens of LED output that can run for over 20 hours on a full charge. 

The LEDs are spaced evenly around the magnifying lens for full workspace illumination. And, it has two brightness settings, so you can adjust the amount of light you need. 

Ryobi ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Glass with Light clamped to the side of a workspace
The RYOBI ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Clamp Light easily grabs onto the side of any work surface. (The Home Depot)

Sturdy Design

It’s heavy enough to stay put on any horizontal surface, but you can also use the clamp feature to free up the workspace. The convenient clamping base securely grips both rounded and flat surfaces.

The 3.5-inch wide acrylic lens provides distortion-free 2.25X magnification with 5X spot magnification on a 16-inch flexible neck and rotating base, allowing you to put it wherever you need. 

Other Features

The RYOBI ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Clamp Light is part of the RYOBI ONE+ System of over 260 Cordless Tools that all work on the same battery platform. (Battery and charger sold separately.)

This magnifying glass with light is backed by the RYOBI 3-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty.

Watch the video to learn all about this Best New Product! 

Find the RYOBI ONE+ 18V LED Magnifying Clamp Light at The Home Depot.

Further Reading

The Fast (and Neat!) Way to Wrap String Around a Spool

The Fast (and Neat!) Way to Wrap String Around a Spool

A spool of nylon string can be used for many things — general crafting, fishing and hunting, and laying mason lines.

When used for masonry, it’s one of the simplest quickest and most accurate ways to create a perfectly straight line.

That’s why a spool of nylon string is often sold as mason’s line — because brick masons use it to get nice straight brick walls. 

The string is easy to unwind off the spool, but it’s not as easy to get back on after you’ve used it.

Winding it by hand back onto the spool can lead to tangles and uneven distribution. And eventually, you’ve got an unusable mess that you have to cut up.

Drill holding a spool of mason line/nylon string by a screw inserted into the handle
Using a power drill to wrap nylon string around a spool will speed up the process and lessen the likelihood of tangles. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Here’s a much better, and faster, solution:

Take a screw and drive it through the end of the plastic housing that the spool is on. Then, chuck it into a drill. 

Turn on the drill to the lowest setting, and just like that, you can now use the power of the drill to put the line back on the spool. 

It only takes a few seconds to wind the nylon string back onto the spool!

As you’re winding up the nylon string, slowly move it back and forth along the spool.

This way, you don’t overload one side or the other, and the string winds up neatly every time.

Further Reading