We receive so many calls from people with problems that have a quick and easy fix, and they are appreciative when we can help them over the phone. Here are a couple of items that could save you from calling a professional.
If you have a couple of outlets in your home, and maybe some lights, that have suddenly quit working, it could be that a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) has tripped. These special outlets are now required anytime an outlet is near water, outside, or in the garage (and sometimes the basement). Newer homes usually have several of these GFCI’s, but older homes may have one or more as well. The outlet is designed to interrupt power anytime the current in the hot and neutral wire is not the same in both wires. It does this in a fraction of a second. While it stops the power to the individual outlet, depending upon the wiring, it may be connected to other outlets in the house (and sometimes lights as well), and cause these other outlets or lights to go off as well. Normally, all you have to do is go around to each GFCI in the house, as well as outside, the garage, etc., and push the reset button at the GFCI to restore power.
If you have a kitchen or vanity faucet that has low water pressure, or even no water coming out at all, check the aerator. This is the last piece of metal on a faucet where the water comes out. It normally will unscrew, and can be so filled with small deposits, that no water at all is able to come out. These aerators should be cleaned every so often as a normal maintenance routine. They can easily be replaced as well and cost about $10.
Have you ever woken in the middle of the night to hear water running in your pipes, as though someone had turned on a faucet, only to have it quit seconds later? This could be what we call a “ghost-flush”. At your toilet, you have a flapper valve inside the tank (it is the part that is connected to the flush handle and chain, sitting at the bottom of the tank). It is common for these flapper valves to become worn periodically, and no longer stop the water in the tank from escaping into the bowl. If the water is escaping, once it goes down a few inches in the tank, the fill valve or ballcock in the tank calls for water, to fill up the tank to the normal level. Since the water only went down slightly, as opposed to emptying completely as in a normal flush, the water sound you hear lasts only for a few seconds. Replacing the flapper valve will take care of the ghost flushing, but we can’t guarantee that it will help you go back to sleep!