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Tips for Cleaning Your Garbage Disposal

kitchen sinkOur plumbers in Placentia can tell you firsthand that it is easier than you might think to keep your garbage disposal performing at an optimal level. One of the most important aspects of maintaining such an appliance is understanding what items should never be placed in the disposal. The latter include egg shells, fruit pits, bones, coffee grounds and any fibrous materials. Such items can cause clogs, dull the blades, or simply impede the garbage disposal’s overall performance. To clean the unit and get it smelling nice again, follow the steps outlined below:

Remove Lodged Objects

Find a small flashlight and point it down the drain to identify anything that may be wound around or lodged in the impellers. Look for items such as vegetable fibers, bones, bottle caps, or similar objects. Plumbers warn against placing your hand into the chamber of your garbage disposal, so make sure you use tongs or needle nose pliers to remove the aforementioned objects if any are discovered.

Flush the Unit With Water

Flushing the unit with water should be your next step, as this will dislodge any grime, dirt and loose food particles. The best way to flush this appliance is to plug the opening to the garbage disposal and fill the sink with approximately three inches of water. The water should be very hot, as this will liquefy any type of buildup on the inside of the pipes, such as grease or other film.

Use Salt and Ice Cubes

After you are finished flushing the unit, put approximately a dozen ice cubes and one cup of baking soda or salt into the garbage disposal. Noise is normal during this step, so do not be alarmed if it sounds quite loud. Remember to turn on the tap water during this step. This combination effectively removes debris and sludge from the disposal’s inner walls.

Scrub the Inner Walls Vigorously

The final cleaning step involves vigorously scrubbing the inner walls of the unit. As previously mentioned, however, do not place your hands inside a garbage disposal for any reason. Use a long handled scrubbing brush to remove any leftover film from the unit. Removing the drain’s screen from the top makes this step easier.

Keep the Unit Smelling Fresh

Once your garbage disposal is clean, you may find yourself looking for ways to keep it smelling good. To freshen up this appliance naturally, grind up approximately half a cup of citrus peels and place them down the garbage disposal. You can also add lavender oil, rosemary oil or essential orange oil to the mixture for an extra fresh fragrance. If you attempt to clean your garbage disposal and discover a serious clog or suspect that it needs repairs, always contact a professional plumber in Placentia. This will ensure that any problems are addressed by an expert and repaired in a timely manner.

 

Five Signs That You Should Replace Your Toilet

man repairing toiletAlthough it is something that most people do not want to face, even the highest quality toilet eventually requires replacement. However, unless your toilet literally falls to pieces–which is highly unlikely–it can be challenging to know when the time is right to invest in a new model. Below are five of the most overt signs that you need to call a professional to replace your toilet:

Continuous Clogging

Clogged toilets quickly lead to headaches for most people, and you are probably among the ranks of those who do not have time to constantly plunge your commode. Although you should not be alarmed at a random clog here and there, consistently clogged toilets should be considered a red flag. Older models or low-flush toilets often experience frequent blockages when their interiors become worn due to age or other issues.

Wobbling

There are several reasons a toilet may wobble when you sit down. For example, loose screws at the base may cause this to happen. If this is the case, you can simply tighten them and the problem is solved. Unfortunately, wobbling may be a sign of a more serious situation, such as water damage under the floor preventing the screws from staying tight. This does not automatically mean the unit must be replaced, but it does indicate that a larger problem is underway.

Constant Running

If your toilet runs continuously no matter what you do, it may be a sign that the rubber flapper at the tank’s bottom has become damaged or worn. It may indicate a broken fill valve in the tank as well. Although both situations are sometimes fixable, they can also mean that a new toilet is your only viable remedy.

Cracks in the Porcelain

Toilets are typically built from porcelain because it is a highly durable material. Nevertheless, similar to other substances, porcelain eventually wears out. Cracks in the toilet’s base can result in leaking and frequent puddling, and this constant flow of water needlessly increases your sewer bill. It can also do serious damage to your bathroom floor.

The Benefits of Replacing a Worn Toilet

Replacing a faulty toilet is important, but you may also want to exchange your current model for one that is more efficient. In 1992, The Energy Policy Act was created when the EPA discovered just how much water is wasted by conventional toilets. This Act mandates that residential toilets use a maximum of 1.6 gallons of water for each flush. Today, you have numerous low-flow options that use even less water. Therefore, consider changing to such a model if you want lower water bills or if you are simply an environmentally-conscious homeowner.

DIY Projects Versus Calling a Plumber 

baking soda in sink drain If you are like many homeowners, you may enjoy completing do-it-yourself repair projects. However, with regard to your home’s plumbing, it is wise to stick to simple projects and place more complex repairs in the hands of a plumber. Below are some easy repairs you can probably tackle on your own, as well as those that require the help of a licensed contractor: 

 Leaky Faucets 

 A constant drip from one of your faucets may simply indicate the need to replace the washer. If this is the case, you can shut off the water, unscrew the handle, and inspect the washer and O-ring for damage. If you replace the washer and the drip continues, you should call a plumber, as you may be dealing with loose parts or broken plumbing components. 

 Clogged Drains 

 Clogged drains can often be freed up with simple solutions of salt or baking soda and hot water. You can also try using detergent designed for washing dishes by hand: place a good portion of detergent down the drain and then flush hot water after it to allow the soapy mixture to unclog the drain. For tough clogs, store-bought formulas may be necessary. Certain clogs are lodged so deep within the pipes that solvents of any kind–including those containing chemicals–are simply not strong enough to break them up. If this is the case, a licensed plumber in Laguna Niguel should be contacted without delay. 

 A Running Toilet 

 If you notice that water continues to run after you flush the commode, the chain within the tank may have become separated from the lever. If this is the problem, you will likely find the chain in a small pile on the bottom of the tank and you can simply re-attach it to the flushing handle. If the chain is damaged, however, it should be replaced. 

 Not all toilet repairs make good DIY projects. For example, a constantly leaking or overflowing toilet is not a repair you should attempt without assistance. Similarly, if your toilet’s water supply is suddenly not strong enough, a plumber should be contacted to determine the reason. Finally, if raw sewage ever begins backing up into your toilet or bathtub, a plumber should be called to your home immediately. 

 Erratic Shower Head Spray 

 If your shower head sprays water at odd angles or seems to have a strong flow from one part of the shower head while only coming out at a trickle in another, you may have a buildup of lime scale on the spray plate or shower head. Fortunately, these components can be soaked in a descaling solution, which should eliminate the problem. However, if the water pressure itself seems to increase and decrease at odd intervals, a plumber should evaluate the unit. 

 Malfunctioning Water Heaters 

 If your water heater is making an odd sound, emitting a strange odor, or otherwise performing improperly, contact a professional to evaluate the unit. Whether the water heater is tankless, electric or gas, water heater repairs are not generally good DIY projects. Whenever you are in doubt about any repair, always err on the side of caution and contact a professional plumber.

Seven Bathroom Plumbing Problems You Should Never Ignore

A woman plunging a toiletAll bathrooms eventually experience plumbing problems. Although you may be able to complete minor repairs on your own, complicated tasks should be handled by a licensed plumber. Below are some bathroom plumbing issues you should never ignore:

Loose Toilet

Although a loose toilet may not seem like a major problem, we can tell you firsthand that it should never be ignored. This is because if it wobbles long enough, its watertight, wax seal may break. If this occurs, water will quickly seep out from the base of the bowl and make its way to crawl spaces, cracks, gaps. It could also potentially flood the room below it, and cause water damage that could potentially cost thousands to mitigate.

One of our clients in Aliso Viejo offers her words of caution: “My upstairs toilet had been wobbly for a few months and I really didn’t think anything of it. It was a minor inconvenience and I thought it would be an easy fix that I could just have dealt with next time I called a plumber out for a clogged drain or something, right? Wrong! Water had been leaking into the crawlspace, and eventually burst through the ceiling of the guest room and soaked everything!”

Water Stains on the Ceiling

Reddish-brown discolorations on your ceiling are not just unattractive, they are almost always the warning sign of a pipe leaking from above. Therefore, if the room overhead is a bathroom, there is a high potential for extensive and costly damage if it is not dealt with immediately. A plumber in Laguna Niguel will be able to look at stains and determine their source and how best to remedy the problem.

Each of the aforementioned concerns can easily lead to expensive repairs if they are ignored. Therefore, when in doubt, contact a professional to evaluate the situation before simple problems become major, costly repairs. A lot of plumbers will even perform leak detection free of charge.

Missing Tile or Grout

The last line of defense tile has against water is its grout. If there are gaps in the grout and water makes its way through the cracks, moisture eventually builds up behind the tile, and this means the tile may come loose from the wall. If you suspect water is seeping in behind your bathroom tiles, contact a plumber before the problem gets worse.

Leaking Flapper

Faulty flapper valves waste a significant amount of water and greatly increase wear and tear on the toilet. When this component leaks, water slowly drips out of the tank to the bowl and down the drain. Eventually, the slow leak trips the fill valve of the toilet, causing the valve to allow water into the tank. This is what is often referred to as a toilet that will not stop “running,” as this cycle typically goes on until the flapper is repaired.

Drains Clogging on a Regular Basis

Light clogs can often be remedied with over-the-counter products or by simply plunging the drain. However, if more than one drain is clogged at a time or if bathroom drains clog repeatedly, there may be an underlying issue of a serious nature. For example, a heavy build up of deposits may require professional drain cleaning. Similarly, a clog deep within the piping or the sewer line is not a repair you should attempt without assistance.

Dripping Faucets

Replacing a washer may be all it takes to remedy a dripping faucet. However, if you try this simple repair and it does not stop the drip, it is best to contact a plumber.

Low Water Pressure

If the water pressure seems low when you flush your toilet and this is not coming from a municipal problem, you should call a plumber in Laguna Niguel right away. You may have a major leak somewhere in your home or the source of the problem may be a water main blockage.

 

 

Why You Should Stop Washing Dishes by Hand

woman washes dishesWe know that sometimes it’s just simply more convenient to wash dishes by hand rather than run the dishwasher for a small load. However, there is substantial evidence that suggests that it is not a good idea to hand wash dishes if it can be avoided. Our plumbers in Laguna Niguel have put together this list of reasons why you may want to stop washing dishes by hand. 

Lessen Your Carbon Footprint

If you have ever wondered about ways to conserve water and lessen your carbon footprint on our planet, you will be pleased to discover that upgrading your dishwasher–or installing one for the first time–is a great way to reduce your water usage and help the environment at the same time. This is because it is more energy-efficient all the way around to use a dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand. This is particularly true if you opt for a new, energy efficient model when selecting a dishwasher. These units save a tremendous amount of water over time, and in certain cases, can save you more than double the amount of water you would use to wash the same load of dishes by hand.

Take it Easy on Your Pipes

When washing dishes by hand, some folks have the tendency to dump large food debris, grease, fats, or starchy foods down the drain, relying on the garbage disposal to make them disappear. However,  the items we just mentioned all have the ability to clog your garbage disposal — as well as your pipes. If possible, we recommend scraping off all dishes and cooking equipment directly into the garbage can, and placing them in the dishwasher, provided that the dish or equipment is dishwasher safe.

Lower Your Water Bill

Dishwashers not only help the planet, they also benefit you financially! When you use less water, your monthly water bill decreases simultaneously. This can only serve as an advantage to your household budget. It may look like a small amount at first, but it will add up quickly as the months go on and any time you can avoid wasting money, it is wise to do so.

Eliminate Unnecessary Exposure to Bacteria

You may have heard that sponges harbor a broad range of bacteria. In fact, certain studies have shown that the average kitchen sponge may host more germs than a toilet seat. Although excess food particles are washed away, you are ultimately adding bacteria to the surface of utensils and dishes when you wash them with a sponge. Dishwashers, on the other hand, clear away the majority of bacteria on your plates, cups and utensils. Of course, you can certainly replace your sponges on a regular basis, but this is a money-wasting, temporary solution to a long-term problem.

Save Time

You may not realize how time-consuming it is to wash dishes by hand, particularly if you have a large family. You may even spend up to an hour a day on this task, especially if you eat most of your meals at home. Obviously, there are more enjoyable activities that you would probably rather do than wash dishes. Time flies and hours add up, and therefore you should consider switching to an energy-efficient dishwasher and enjoying the convenience it brings.

If you want a lower water bill, less bacteria on your dishes and utensils, and a more convenient way to wash dishes, invest in an energy efficient, environmentally-friendly dishwasher. Finally, if you are experiencing any plumbing issues, feel free to contact us without delay with your questions and concerns or to schedule an in-home estimate for repairs or the addition of new kitchen appliances.

Top Warning Signs of Plumbing Problems for Home Buyers

home for sale signIt is also essential to be able to recognize the telltale signs of plumbing problems so that you can head off minor issues before they become expensive repairs. Our emergency plumbers in Laguna Niguel have compiled the following tips to help you spot the warning signs of plumbing problems in your new home:

Learn About Your Home’s Plumbing History

It is important to learn something about the plumbing history of the home you plan to purchase. Information can be obtained from the home’s former occupants and your realtor.  When you have a clear picture of the property’s history, you are in a better position to make informed decisions concerning any issues that may arise with your septic system, pipes, water tank or other system components.

Outdated Sewage System

Determining the age and condition of the home’s sewage system is also vital. Most sewer systems exit the home at its lowest point. If it is a municipal system, the wastewater is carried to a city main. However, septic tanks typically allow the wastewater to run into a larger tank located on the property. If your home has a septic tank, inspect it for water seepage of any kind, as well as for unpleasant odors. If the sewage system is particularly old, a licensed contractor should be called to complete a full inspection.

Water Heater Problems

Although most water heaters typically have a generous lifespan, they all eventually fail. Look around the bottom of your water heater to discover if there are any leaks. Even a small leak is a sign of a problem, and a professional contractor should be called. Such an individual can also determine whether or not the home’s current water heater has the appropriate capacity for the dwelling.

Toilets

It is unwise to ignore toilets that run constantly. Even though such leaks may appear small and insignificant, constantly running toilets may indicate big problems. If the commode show signs of leakage around the bottom, this should be addressed immediately, as it may damage the finish of the floor or even result in structural damage to the subfloor.

Garbage Disposals or Drains That Clog Easily

If your home features a garbage disposal that clogs easily, or if any of the home’s sinks are slow to drain, you should have your plumbing inspected. Clogs should never be ignored, as they can lead to more expensive problems if they are not remedied in a timely manner.

Poorly Installed Pipes

Leaking pipes can cause serious damage. Therefore, you should look for warning signs, such as worn pipes, rusty or corroded joints–especially elbow joints, which usually rust quicker than other fixtures–and leaks of any size. If the supply pipes to your home are galvanized, they are probably quite old and may require replacement in the immediate future.

If drains appear restricted when water is flowing down, the piping system may no longer be large enough to sustain the amount of water the home uses. If your new house is very old and features asbestos insulation, never attempt even the simplest of DIY projects. Instead, call a professional who has the tools and experience to deal with the problem. Finally, always have a licensed plumber evaluate, repair and maintain the plumbing system in your new home.

If you are purchasing a home, whether you have owned property before or are investing in your first dwelling, you should strongly consider having a plumber  inspect the home’s plumbing system before making an offer.

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

children drinking waterWhen lead was discovered in Flint, Michigan’s water supply, the importance of healthy, clean water was a constant topic of conversation throughout the country. However, many people are unaware of how to find out if their home’s drinking water is safe. Follow these helpful tips from plumbers in Laguna Niguel to help ensure that your drinking water is safe:

Lead Exposure From Contaminated Water

The Environmental Protection Agency–EPA–reports that 10 to 20% of lead exposure in America is the result of water contamination. Lead accumulates over time, and therefore even low levels can eventually cause toxicity in the human body. It is also important to understand that lead which has dissolved in water cannot be seen, smelled or tasted.

Water Testing

The only foolproof avenue through which to discover the true quality of your water supply is to purchase a lead testing kit or ask your municipal water supplier to conduct such a test. If you are receiving tap water from your town, request a copy of their Consumer Confidence Report, which contains the results of required tests that are conducted on a regular basis. The presence of lead in water must be below 15 parts per billion.

However, even if your water source is a well on your own property, the water should be tested if a child under 18 years of age lives in the home or if a member of the household becomes pregnant. Additionally, water quality varies from one home to the next due to factors such as the age of the plumbing and whether or not lead pipes are present.

Reducing Lead Exposure in Drinking Water

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce lead exposure from drinking water, the most effective of which is to invest in a filter. However, you should only consider filters and pitchers certified by the National Sanitation Foundation International.

Plumbers also recommend regularly cleaning your faucet’s screen, as contaminants and minerals can build up on this component. If the faucet has not been used for over six hours, it should be run for 15 to 30 seconds before being used to obtain drinking water.

If your testing endeavors result in the discovery of lead or other contaminants in your home’s water supply, pipes and fixtures may be causing or contributing to the problem. However, replacing or repairing pipes are not good DIY projects. Therefore, jobs of this kind should be placed in the hands of professional plumbers who have the skills and expertise to properly complete the work.

A Plumber’s Advice For Conserving Water

Graphic of earth under waterPractical New Year’s resolutions are a new trend in 2019. Among one of the most popular is lowering utility bills of all kinds. Water certainly falls into this category, as it is easy to overlook the excessive use of water. Fortunately, there are simple tips you can follow to not only conserve this precious resource, but also to lower your monthly water bill.

Hot Water Tips

To conserve hot water, fill your sink or a basin with hot water and wash your dishes all at once. Then, rinse them separately rather than leaving the tap running the entire time you wash each item. Additionally, instead of running warm tap water over frozen foods, take them from the freezer in advance and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator or on your kitchen counter. You should also consider a tankless hot water heater, which reduces heating costs and hot water wait times.

Tips for Shortening Shower Time

Showers are responsible for approximately 17 percent of your indoor water use. Fortunately, you can save over 12 gallons of water per shower by simply shortening your shower time from ten to five minutes. You should also consider installing a modern shower head designed to conserve water regardless of how long you like to spend in the shower.

Our plumbers in Laguna Niguel have two recommendations for cutting down your shower time. The first and most obvious would be to set an alarm on your phone. The second tip is to find two songs that you can play on your phone that have a combined duration of 5 minutes.

Fix Leaky Faucets

Never procrastinate if you have a leaky faucet. A leaking faucet that drips only one time per second wastes approximately 190 gallons of water per month. Another great water conservation tip is turning the water off when you brush your teeth, and then turning it back on to rinse.

Install an Energy Efficient Dishwasher

Because of advancements in modern technology, it is now possible to obtain a dishwasher that is highly energy-efficient. Replacing an old outdated dishwasher with a newer model can lead to significantly less water usage. Other tips to conserve water when using this appliance are making sure you only run full loads and washing lightly soiled dishes by hand.

Replace Old or Leaky Toilets

Approximately 30 percent of your indoor water consumption comes from flushing your commode, and toilets waste a tremendous amount of water in the average household. This is particularly true if they are outdated models or have leaks. In fact, a commode that leaks can waste approximately 200 gallons of water per day, which significantly raises your water bill and wastes this important resource.

Laundry

Adjusting your home’s washing machine to meet a lower demand is a great way to reduce the amount of water you use. This is easy to accomplish by never running the washing machine on the full setting if you are only washing a small load. Additionally, you should avoid running extra rinse or pre-wash cycles, as these settings ultimately make little difference with regard to how clean your laundry gets, but can waste a considerable amount of water in the process.

If you keep track of your water bill while using the aforementioned tips, you will likely be pleasantly surprised with how much water you conserve.

Avoiding Plumbing Problems This Holiday Season

Illustration of Santa with a plungerHow to Remedy Common Holiday Plumbing Problems

Every homeowner knows that plumbing disasters often take place at the least convenient times; like when you are hosting a weekend party, cooking a holiday meal or otherwise entertaining guests in your home. Below are some helpful tips from our plumbers in Laguna Niguel for you to use when these problems occur:

Stopped-Up Sink Drain

When people are cooking for the holidays, their drains start working overtime. Since most drain clogs occur in the J-shaped pipe beneath your sink, they are often easier to clear away than toilet clogs.

One of our plumbers in Laguna Niguel warns against the dangers of chemical drain cleaners:

“Steer clear of chemical drain cleaners! They do more harm than good. Your first line of defense should be to boil a big pot of water, and then pour it down your sink drain in hopes that the hot water will break up the clog and flush it through. If that doesn’t work, go for the plunger. If you’re still having trouble, you can use a snake if you’re comfortable with it, but I would advise most people to call in a plumber at that point.”

Faulty Dishwasher Performance

If you have holiday meal dishes to wash, but your dishwasher has failed to properly drain from the last load, it may be clogged with food waste. If you remove the drain basket screws and pull out the flapper and basket, the problem may quickly become evident: if the basket is clogged with food particles, it simply needs to be washed and the dishwasher’s interior cleaned. Such clogs can be prevented by remembering to rinse dishes before they are placed in the machine.

Fixing a Broken Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal, it is highly likely that it has become clogged at least once or twice. One way to avoid this problem is to pay close attention to what you place in the disposal. For example, avoid putting coffee grounds, potato peels, egg shells or grease down the drain, as garbage disposals are not made to process such items. It is also important to keep an eye on what guests may be placing down the disposal when visiting or attending a party.

If the disposal is running sluggish, the blades may need to be sharpened or replaced. Sharpening is easy to do by running a few small ice cubes through the disposal. If the disposal is failing to run at all, press the reset button on the bottom of the unit. If these remedies prove ineffectual, it is time to call a plumber.

Water Heater Issues

If your water heater is failing to produce hot water or you notice moisture around the base, it is likely that it needs to be repaired by a plumber. If it is a particularly old unit, it may have simply reached the end of its lifespan, at which point it must be replaced. Any new or unusual sounds coming from the unit should never be ignored. Rather, when in doubt, contact a professional for an expert evaluation of any holiday plumbing problem you are experiencing.

Clogged Toilet

Even if you meticulously maintain your home, all toilets occasionally become clogged. In most cases, the proper use of a simple plunger will remedy the problem. However, if you have a major clog, you may need to use a drain snake. If you are unsure how to use these tools or you have tried them and could not resolve the problem, it is time to contact a professional plumber.

How to Effectively Communicate With Your Plumber

plumber shaking hands with home ownerMany consumers find it awkward to open their home to a plumber or other repairman. However, the better your communication is with your plumber, the more satisfied you will likely be with the outcome of the visit. Below are some simple tips from our plumbers in Laguna Niguel on how to communicate easily and pleasantly with your plumbing contractor:

Do Not Overreact

If you have just discovered a clogged pipe or a stopped up toilet, call a plumber immediately, but remain calm. If your home has other working bathrooms or you do not have to use the kitchen sink within the next few hours, do not call your plumber and demand that he or she show up immediately to deal with an “emergency.” Try to be level headed when problems occur and allow your plumber to prioritize tasks based on his or her professional judgment.

Do Not Try to Play Host or Hostess

In most places, even though the plumber is entering your home, he or she is typically there to complete a job and would rather get straight to work, rather than drink coffee or chat. Therefore, instead of offering refreshments or trying to make small talk, simply tell the plumber to feel free to ask you any questions, and otherwise make yourself scarce.

Be Realistic About Estimates

It is important to have a mutual understanding of what an estimate is, and it is just what the name implies; an estimate. All homeowners want to know exactly what to expect, but some contractors cannot give a precise quote based merely on your verbal description of an issue.

For scheduled projects, such as renovations that you planned in advance, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a flat rate, but other types of repairs may differentiate somewhat from the initial estimate.

Ask the Appropriate Questions

If you are hiring a new plumber and you want to obtain useful information about the contractor’s level of experience, the best thing you can do is avoid yes or no questions. Instead, ask things like “how do you typically handle a situation like this?” Most experienced plumbers will be pleased to offer details when asked such questions.

Another great way to communicate about your specific plumbing problem and possible outcomes is to ask the contractor for best and worst case scenarios. You should also inquire about possible complications so that if something of that nature arises, you are not caught off guard.

Discuss Payment Schedules

It is always best to ask for an installment plan if the plumbing repairs cannot be paid for in one lump sum.  Many homeowners do not have enough money on hand to pay for a large job, and some plumbers will accept monthly payments for large jobs. However, it is imperative that you communicate your wishes in advance to make sure this payment method is acceptable with your plumber.

Plumbing problems can be particularly stressful, especially if they occur on an emergency basis. However, maintaining open lines of communication with your plumber is a good way to reduce this stress.

 

 

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