Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: How do I find out what utilities are underground?
JULIE, Inc. (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) is a not-for-profit corporation that provides contractors, excavators, homeowners, and others who may be disturbing the earth, with a free service through a single toll-free phone number (1-800-892-0123) to call for the locating and marking of underground utility facilities. JULIE services the entire state of Illinois , except the city limits of Chicago.

Q: How do I drain my hot water heater?
Draining Your Water Heater – Annual Maintenance
Always follow the procedures in accordance with your water heater manufacturer's manual. If this is not available you can follow the procedure listed below.

At least once a year, maybe more often depending upon the area you live in, your water heater should be drained appropriately. This is a preventative maintenance process that will remove any sediment (iron, manganese, calcium, etc.) from the water heater. Doing this will prolong the life of the water heater and allow it to run more efficiently.

Note: Before attempting to do the following procedure please be extremely careful. You are dealing with hot water and you do not want to get burned.

To drain a water heater, do the following:

  • Turn down the temperature dial for burner control. This will prevent the gas burner from lighting during this process. Once complete, reset the dial to the desired temperature for the water heater.
  • Connect a hose to the bottom drain valve and direct the end of the hose to a wash tub basin, floor drain or out a window. Excessive sediment may clog the drain line. You should watch what is flushed from the tank before letting it go down the drain.
  • Go to a faucet upstairs, preferably the kitchen, and turn on the hot water side.
  • Turn off the valve on the cold water supply pipe located above the heater. Do not leave the burner on with the valve closed. This will cause excessive pressure to build up.
  • Drain the water heater through the bottom drain valve until there is little pressure present.
  • Turn hot water off upstairs.
  • Turn on the valve on the cold water supply line. Turn the valve on and off a few times to agitate the sediment on the bottom of the water heater.
  • Drain water heater again through the bottom drain valve and keep open until discoloration and sediment have diminished.

Q: Why is my water pressure low?
If the low pressure is coming from a single faucet, try cleaning the screen. If low pressure is coming through the entire house and you have a water softener or water filter, try bypassing the softener or filter and see if the pressure improves.

If you have bypassed the water softener or water filter and there is no improvement to the water pressure, or if you don’t have a water softener or water filter, please call (815) 724-4220 to have a utility serviceman investigate.

Q: Why does the water look milky when I fill up a clear glass from the sink?
When air is in the line the water can appear milky at first. To confirm that it is air, fill a glass with water and let it sit. After a few minutes, the air will be gone and the water should be clear.

Q: What can I do if my sump pump runs all the time?
There may be a problem with the pump or there may be a new influence from ground water. First, check to see how fast the water is entering the sump pit. This is a simple check by removing the lid. Most sump pumps will run for 3-5 days after a heavy rain. In wet areas, it is not uncommon for sump pumps to run for 2-3 weeks after a heavy rain.

The sump pump drains water from the exterior of the house at the foundation level. This pipe circles the house and enters the pit with one or two pipes. Simple fixes to reduce the amount of water are to extend the downspouts away from the house and make sure all ground slopes away from the house. The ground slope should be a minimum of 1” for every 12” to direct water from the foundation.

Extend the sump pump discharge away from the house. This could be pumped into a rain barrel or water garden [PDF].

Older homes may have had downspouts connected into the building drains. Disconnect all downspouts that run directly into the ground and extend them above ground a minimum of 6-feet away from the foundation.

Listen at the water pipes where they enter the home. If a leak has developed, you should be able to hear it, even though water is not present. Sometimes a leak may exist away from your home. If the pump is still running continuously, please call (815) 724-4220 to have a utility serviceman come out.

Q: Do we have hard water? What is the hardness of our water?
Yes, Joliet tap water is considered hard water. If you are East of Midland Avenue the hardness level grain/gallon is 22. If you are West of Midland Avenue the hardness level grain/gallon is 12. If you need other levels to regulate for aquariums, water softeners, or other devices in your home please call (815) 724-4230 for further assistance.

Q: Where are my shutoff valves?
There are actually two or three major shutoff valves. The first valve is called a curb stop and is generally located in the parkway or right-of-way and is normally housed by a cylinder with a cap on it called a Buffalo Box or B-Box. The City of Joliet maintains this valve.

The other major valve is located in the home next to the water meter. The meter may have a shut off valve on both sides of the meter or just one side of the meter. The homeowner is responsible for maintaining these valves.

Do you know where to find your water shut-off valve? Find out how to locate your valve here.

Q: What part of my water service is my responsibility?
The City of Joliet maintains the service line from the water main to the B-Box in the right-of-way. The water service line is the property of the resident. The resident’s responsibility for maintenance begins after the B-Box and extends up through the entire home. The water meter, however, is the property of the City of Joliet . Any valves adjacent to the water meter are the property of the resident and must be maintained by the resident.

Q: Should I maintain my main shutoff valve?
Keeping your main valve in good working condition will assure that you will be able to turn your water off in the event of an emergency. Older style gate valves should be turned periodically due to possible corrosion build-up. Newer Teflon coated ball valves should stay in working order without any regular turning.

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