Common Plumbing Dilemmas

From a leaky faucet to a broken sump pump, you never know when a plumbing problem will occur. At L.D. Smith Plumbing, we've seen it all. We have compiled a list of some of the most common plumbing dilemmas and what might be the cause. Lance recently visited Life.Style. Live! to share a few of these dilemmas. Watch the video below.

Why is water backing up?

It could be a recurring clog, sewer line damage, hair or tree roots. It depends on the line.  

Why is my water heater leaking?

This could be caused by a cracked or corroded water heater tank, loose or faulty fittings and pipe connections. These problems could occur due to age of the water heater, high water pressure or thermal expansion.  

Why do we run out of hot water so fast?
There could be several reasons for this, including mechanical failure. Another reason could be your current storage tank water heater isn’t big enough to handle the needs in your home and you might need a larger water heater. There also may be sediment clogging the tank reducing the flow of water.

Is it safe to use popular drain cleaners to treat a clog?

Lance does not believe chemical drain cleaners are ever safe to use because these products not only damage metallic piping or equipment but can be harmful to the skin if there is contact or if inhaled. The best recommendation is to call a plumber to assess the problem as drain cleaners could be hiding a larger issue

I just purchased an older home. What should I know about my plumbing?

If the plumbing is all original, make sure a qualified professional inspects it. The primary concerns Lance has about plumbing in older homes are: The age of the water service and sewer line, and the age and condition of the water lines and drainage within the home.

I have multiple slow-draining sinks in my home. Is one clog the cause?  It depends if all sinks are connected to the same line, but most likely not.

Plumbing problem? Request an appointment with the experts at L.D. Smith Plumbing in Indianapolis.

Lance profiled in industry newsletter

Lance Smith, owner of L.D. Smith Plumbing, shared details about how he got his start in plumbing and his love of barefoot water skiing in the recent newsletter for Greater Indianapolis Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors.

Read the article here.

VIDEO: Lance shares summer plumbing tips

The summer countdown is on! That means cookouts, picnics, and lots of gatherings in the backyard. It also means some of the plumbing in your home will get much more use than normal. During his recent visit to Life.Style.Live!, Lance Smith, owner of L.D. Smith Plumbing, shared quick tips to prevent plumbing challenges in your home this summer. Watch the video and read more tips below.

Planning a vacation? Find the location of your water shutoff

Also known as the main water valve, the water shutoff valve can help you rest a little easier when away from home. It turns off the water in your entire home. Turning off the main water supply protects your property if there is a plumbing failure while you are on vacation. You cannot predict when a pipe will burst – and it is not unusual for homeowners to return home to discover significant damage from an unexpected plumbing emergency. Look for the main water shutoff valve in your basement or outside close to your property.

Know the dos and don’ts of your garbage disposal

Large gatherings are popular in summer, which makes the garbage disposal a convenient appliance to dump leftover food. Some food does not dissolve in your pipes, causing a clogged drain. Foods to avoid tossing in the garbage disposal are: Eggshells, pasta, rice, grease, oils, and fats. Foods that work well in your garbage disposal are: Cooked meats, ice, veggie and fruit scraps.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

It’s summer. You want hot water, not HOT HOT water. Lowering the temperature in summer could reduce your energy bill. The thermostat on a gas or tankless water heater is usually on the front. Changing the temperature on an electric water heater will require a professional plumber to adjust.

Inspect your washer hoses for cracks

Make sure your washer is prepared for the massive amount of laundry this summer. Washer hoses last for less than five years. Pull the washer away from the wall and check the hoses. Replace those that appear cracked. Lance recommends stainless steel washer hoses that are much more durable than rubber.

Protect your plumbing all year with our Plumbing Protection Plan

Avoid plumbing problems this summer and all year with the L.D. Smith Plumbing Protection Plan. It is only $89 and covers a plumbing inspection – which includes washer hoses - priority scheduling for emergencies, discounted plumbing services, and much more. Get more details here.

WATCH: Lance shares fall plumbing tips on Indy Style

As you prepare for pumpkin picking, leaf raking, and all things fall, add a quick plumbing check to your to-do list. Lance Smith, owner of L.D. Smith Plumbing, visited the TV show Indy Style to share plumbing a few plumbing tips for fall. Fall is a great time to check your pipes, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures to ensure your home is ready to handle the cold weather ahead.

Check your water heater
If it’s older than 10 years old, now is the time to consider a replacement to guarantee warm
water. For energy savings, set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees.

Disconnect outdoor water hose
This prevents freezing pipes and damage to your plumbing in the winter months.

Schedule major sewer line or drain repairs

No one wants to replace sewer pipes in winter. It’s no fun. Temperatures affect your sewer
pipes. Even if you have a small crack in your pipe right now, freezing temperatures can create a
bigger problem if not treated such as a flooded home or blockage. If there are any concerns
about sewer line, schedule an inspection to find leaks or cracks and treat those issues to ensure
your pipes are winter-ready.

Make it easy to access your water shut-off valve
This is very important for homeowners, especially if you have winter vacation plans. The shut-off
valve turns off water flow to your home preventing significant damage to your home in case
there is a hard freeze or flooding while you are away. Make sure you know the exact location of
your shut-off valve and have a plan for how to access it if there is heavy snow.

Check all pipes
Inspect all pipes in your home to make sure they are in a conditioned area and crawl space
vents are closed. Also, make sure no siding or insulation has been removed or damaged that
would allow cold air in.

Keep your plumbing operating efficiently year-round with our Plumbing Protection Plan for $89 annually. Learn more. 

Preventing frozen pipes

Winter months in Indianapolis can be brutal, especially on the plumbing in your home. When temperatures drop, the possibility of pipes freezing increases. It doesn’t take much for pipes to freeze. When outside temperatures hit below 20 degrees, pipes become vulnerable to freezing. Left unprotected, pipes can burst as they thaw and cause significant damage to your property such as flooding.

Planning ahead is critical to protecting your property and reducing the chances of spending thousands of dollars to repair water damage.

Insulate and seal

Exposed pipes in basements, crawl spaces and attics are susceptible to freezing if there’s no heat source in those areas. Insulating these areas is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take much time. Find one do-it-yourself method here.

Sealing cracks near pipes where there are openings to allow cold air can also reduce the possibility of freezing pipes. Most of these openings can be found near dryer vents and electrical wiring. Caulk or insulation works to seal these openings.

The best time for these projects is before the start of winter.

Consistent temp and drip

Two simple things can make a big difference in protecting your pipes. Keep the temperature in your home the same – at least 55 degrees – during the cold months. In addition, when freezing temperatures are expected, turn on your water faucet to a drip.

If you plan to be away from home in winter, always remember to shut off the water system.

If pipes are frozen in your home...Frozen pipes should be managed by a professional plumber. If you have suspect pipes are frozen, contact L.D. Smith Plumbing immediately. You will also need to turn off the water right away. It's important to know the location of your main shutoff in case one of the pipes bursts. At least 50 percent of the time, a frozen pipe has split or cracked a fitting, but the damage will be unknown until it thaws.

The team at L.D. Smith Plumbing provides emergency service to customers. Call us at 317.927.7186 if you have a plumbing emergency such as frozen pipes.

True or False: TikTok Garage Disposal Hack

There's a popular garbage disposal cleaning hack on Tiktok that uses ice cubes and hot water. The hack promotes an easy solution to keeping your garbage disposal clean and odor-free.

Lance Smith, owner of L.D. Smith Plumbing, explains if this solution is the best way to keep your garbage disposal clean. Listen to the audio version or read the transcript below.

Announcer: So, Lance,  there is a TikTok video featuring a woman pouring ice cubes down the garbage disposal. She turns it on, lets the ice cubes break up, and as she's breaking it up there's brown water coming out meaning that the garbage disposal is clean. And then she says this is a game changer in terms of cleaning the garbage disposal. What do you think about these hacks that are on TikTok and other social media platforms promoting this kind of ice cube challenge for your garbage disposal?

Lance: In my in my opinion, and I align with the other half, I never seen it be very successful but I might be doing it wrong. I'll have to check that video out. 

Announcer: Why why would why would people.... I don't know why ice cubes would be even a cleaning solution for a garbage disposal?

Lance: It's probably because they're hard but they can break up. You know it's one of those things.. I don't know I can't think of anything else off the top of my head that would go down there hard but then would break up without causing damage to the rest of the system because once the ice melts it's water and going to go down. 

Announcer: So then what's the best way to clean it? 

Lance: To clean a garbage disposal? Usually, right under the flange, you can pull that flange out. The newer garbage disposals have replaceable flanges..that's where a lot of that muck builds up is under that rubber flange and the main thing is just making sure the food gets squashed through there every time so there isn't build up by running the water about 15 seconds every time after you use your disposal. There are also I've heard some people say, you know, the power of lemon juice. 

I mean I use lemon juice. My mom taught me about it when, you know, just for health reasons, but I think also citrus is very powerful in using some, you know, using some little pieces of lemon peel and not overdoing it, or getting a lemon juice citrus-based solution to go through there has also been successful. 

L.D. Smith Plumbing serves customers in Indianapolis and surrounding areas, including Carmel, Fishers, Avon, Westfield, Noblesville and Brownsburg.

What’s using the most water in your home?

You might be surprised how much water you use each day in your home. On average, most households use 60 gallons of water per person every day. From taking showers to washing dishes, managing water in your home could help the environment and your wallet. Water use typically increases during the summer months as we take care of plants and vegetable gardens or turn on the hose for summer fun. Here are some of the daily activities that use the most water: 

Toilets - According to the Environmental Protection Agency, older toilets can use up to seven gallons of water per flush! If you have a leaky toilet, you could waste about 200 gallons per day. A solution could be converting to Water Sense toilets or pressure-assist toilets.

Bath vs Showers – Taking a long soak in a hot bath uses up to 50 gallons of water compared to approximately half that for a quick shower. 

Washing clothes – Up to 50 gallons of water can be used per load when washing clothes using a traditional washer and dryer. If you have energy-saving appliances such as a non-agitator washer, water use is approximately 27 gallons of water per load, according to the EPA. 

Hand washing dishes vs using a dishwasher – For those committed to washing dishes in the sink each day, you are using up to 27 gallons of water per load. Today’s energy-efficient dishwashers use as much as five gallons of water per load. You might reconsider rinsing food off plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Pre-rinsing, according to Consumer Reports, wastes more than 6,000 gallons of water per household each year. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offer these tips for conserving water in your home:

To learn more about controlling water usage in your home, calculate your water footprint here

Get the latest water solutions for your home by consulting with the experts at L.D. Smith Plumbing. Contact us for information about energy-efficient plumbing fixtures for your home. 

Considering ​a home water treatment? Here’s what you need to know

GET $150 off any water softener system installed.

It’s impossible not to experience hard water in Indianapolis. In fact, the city is among the top in the U.S. with the hardest water, which can cause significant clogging in your pipes. The most common solution is salt-based water softeners that utilize salt in resin and brine tanks to eliminate the ions that cause hard water. There are saltless options that condition the water and are a viable solution for your home. As options for water treatments and conditioners grow, it could be difficult to determine if saltless or salt-based is the best solution for your home.

Does your home need water treatment?

If you have frequent stains on our faucets, dishes, and shower head, you have hard water. Hard water also causes itchy skin. There are tests available to determine the specific level of hard water in your home. Levels range from 0-3 grains per gallon (gpg) to 15+ gpg, which is extremely hard water. A water softener eliminates hard water by drawing heavy minerals away using a process called ion exchange.

Salt-based water softener

If hard water levels are considerably high (11-15 gpg, salt-based water softener works well. It minimizes limescale and other minerals from your water. You also want to check the basin periodically for a salt bridge, which is a hard crust that forms in the brine tank and creates an empty space between the water and the salt. If you notice salt levels are still high in the basin or hard water has returned, a salt bridge could be the cause. We recommend HydroQuest Water Softener Systems for homes that need a salt-based treatment.

Saltless water treatment    

Saltless water treatments are known as conditioners because they neutralize the minerals that cause hard water. It works by descaling hard water through a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC), which transforms the minerals into crystals that flow through your water system without sticking to the pipes. Typically, these systems are low maintenance and less expensive than salt-based water softeners. L.D. Smith Plumbing installs Flow-Tech, a popular and affordable saltless option.

Seeking hard water solutions for your home? Request an appointment with one of your plumbers to discuss options. 

When one flush is not enough

With families spending more time at home, you learn quickly if the toilet is not working properly. Maybe it's multiple flushes to get everything down the drain, or frequent use of the plunger when things just aren't moving. This is a common problem. In fact, an easy solution could be a pressure-assist toilet. These toilets are much powerful than standard models and use less water.

Pressure-assist toilets are often found in commercial properties, but they are becoming common in residential homes. Drainage systems can't handle the current flow of standard toilets, which is the reason for the double, even triple, flush most people experience.

Unlike standard or gravity-flow, toilets, a pressure-assist toilet has a bladder inside of the standard toilet tank – one inside of the other. This bladder uses the same amount of water, or less, but pressurizes it, creating a much more powerful flush.


A pressure-assist toilet costs more than standard models but will save you money long-term. Rarely do you flush twice of its powerful force, which reduces the need for repairs. It's a product that's built to last. In addition, you save hundreds of gallons of water each year due to less flushing - saving you dollars on your water bill.


These toilets are loud. Visit a restroom at your local shopping mall or hospital and you get a sense of the power of this toilet.

Overall, a pressure-assist is a solid option if you are getting tired of frequently clogged toilets and multiple flushing, especially if you are confident there are no other drainage issues in your home. It is definitely a permanent solution to keep things moving down the drain.

Need help with your toilet? Put down the plunger and call the experts at L.D. Smith Plumbing.

Keep your basement water-free. Get a backup sump pump

Spring showers bring lots of rain and, possibly, potential flooding in your basement - if your sump pump can't handle the water pressure. The only way to feel confident that your basement will remain water-free is with a backup system. A backup system is your home's plan B option in case your sump pump fails. The system kicks in only during an emergency such as a power outage or if the sump pump just stops working properly. There are times when customers have unplugged their sump pump for different reasons and realized, upon discovering a flooded basement, that they forgot to plug it back in. A backup sump pump system would have saved them thousands of dollars in property damage.

In addition to your primary sump pump failing, here are other reasons to consider a backup system:

There is so much rainwater your primary sump pump cannot keep up and needs extra help. This is a red flag that your current sump pump may not have what it takes to keep your basement water-free during a significant rain event, especially if your home is located in an area with a high water table.

Your primary pump fails. Although there are several ways to detect early signs of trouble (read more here), most homeowners typically learn their sump pump is not working when the basement floods. Whether you decide to repair the old sump pump or buy a new one, this is a great time to invest in a backup system to ensure you have a safety net.

A backup system is less expensive than repairing water damage in your basement. The average cost to repair water damage in an Indiana home with a finished basement is over $5,000 according to Home Advisor.

A backup system includes an alarm to alert about any problems in the pit where your sump pump is located. L.D. Smith Plumbing also offers a device that connects to your wifi to receive alerts away from home.

DEAL ALERT: Get your sump pump FREE with the purchase of a backup system. Get the deal here and contact us today to schedule an appointment with L.D. Smith Plumbing.