Signs it’s time to replace your toilet

bathroom with toilet

Unless you are planning a bathroom update or you have an issue, you probably don’t think twice about replacing your toilet.  Just like the other fixtures in your home, eventually your toilet will need to be replaced. How do you know when it is time? Here are six signs it’s time to replace your toilet.

#1 You notice water: If you frequently find water around your toilet this could be more than a minor leak. You could have a crack in your tank. If it is operating properly and there is water around the bottom, you could have a crack in the bowl. A plumber can help you determine if this is something that can be repaired or replaced.

#2 Age of equipment: Even if your toilet is working properly, if it is a few decades old you may want to consider replacement. Older toilets are likely to use more water and could be driving up your water bill. Residential toilets sold after 1994 use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Advances like dual flush technology, which allow you to select a partial flush for liquid waste, helps to reduce your water use even further.

#3 It moves: Toilets should stay securely in place. If it is unsteady, it could indicate that you have a water damage to your floor and need to have it repaired.

#4 Too many repairs: If you called a plumber several times in recent years for repairs, it may be time to replace.  It will likely save you money in the long run.

#5 Too many clogs: If you reach for your plumber’s friend too often, it may be time for an upgrade. Low flow toilets have come a long way… you won’t have to give up on water savings with an efficient toilet just to stop reaching for the plunger.

# 6 Surface damage: If you have a lot of scratches on your toilet from years of cleaning, you may want to consider replacing. Excessive scratches can make it more difficult to keep it clean.

Special Savings Through September 30, 2021

Plumbing Repair Services

Whether you have an immediate need or are planning proactively to replace a faucet, toilet, garbage disposal or shower, Central Carolina can help.

Simply request your repair online today and someone will be in touch with you to confirm your appointment.

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Best Water Heater Temperature

Carolina weather is notoriously unpredictable during the winter months - we may get mild weather one day, then a freezing cold day the next.  These cold days often prompt us to enjoy the warmer features in our home all the more. A space heater, warm blankets, and hot showers often become our go-to on these cold winter days. While you want your shower to be hot, it shouldn’t be scalding hot. You can avoid this by setting the best water heater temperature.

Manufacturers often set the water heater to 140 degrees. Although this is the standard temperature for water heaters, it can produce water that is much hotter than ideal. If you have small children in the home who like to play with faucets, then you’ll definitely want to adjust the water heater temperature.

The best water heater temperature is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only will 120 degrees feel just the right amount of hot, but it will also help you save on your energy bills! The estimated annual savings from your water heater set at 120 degrees is about $10-30.

Image shows hot water coming from shower headAccording to the EPA, setting your water heater at 120 degrees is also hot enough to prevent diseases and bacteria from growing. The EPA does warn you not to turn it too low, however. Doing so could cause bacteria to grow or prevent you from getting enough hot water during your showers.

Check the current temperature setting on your water heater by taking a temperature reading from your faucet. You can also find it by looking at the dial located on your water heater.

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

We’re approaching the time of year where frozen pipes are all too common. When water freezes, it expands, and when this happens inside your plumbing pipes, it puts the entire system at risk. And then when increased pressure builds inside the pipes it makes them prone to cracking. Let’s discuss how to prevent frozen pipes this winter.

You certainly don’t want to deal with a burst pipe during a freezing winter spell! There’s so much damage a frozen pipe can cause. For instance, an 1/8-inch crack can release 250 gallons of water per day. Flooding can lead to mold and to very costly structural damage. You should take every precaution possible to prevent this disaster from happening. Do you know how to avoid frozen pipes? We’ve got a few tips to keep you ahead of a winter disaster.

A few preventive measures will keep your pipes moving and above freezing, even when temperatures fall.

Open your faucets

If you are expecting freezing temperatures, open the water faucets in your home, just a little, to allow a slow, constant drip. This will keep your pipes warm and reduce the pressure.

Open cabinet doors

Expose the pipes under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. They are prone to freezing and by opening the doors warm air will reach them.

Open the air vents

Avoid cold zones as much as possible. If all the air vents are open warm air can blow into every room.

Protect outdoor faucets

Drain and close off all outdoor faucets. Disconnect any water hoses that are still attached outdoors. Use faucet covers. They provide insulation and protection from falling ice.

Keep the furnace on low

Leaving town? Be sure you program your furnace to continue running. If your house gets too cold, a burst pipe may greet you upon your return home.

Protect Outdoor Faucets from Freezing

You’ll want to implement these low-cost, temporary fixes when temperatures begin to drop. If you notice ice crystals on your indoor pipes, use a hair dryer on a low setting to melt the ice. If you lose power and the weather is sub-zero,  insulate and cover your most vulnerable pipes immediately.

Longer-term solutions, although certainly more expensive, can give you even more security and protect your pipes from freezing for many years.

Try these permanent solutions to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate your crawl space
  • Replace standard outdoor faucets
  • Insulate the walls
  • Repair exterior wall cracks
  • Reroute the pipes

While you cannot prevent icy weather, you can protect your pipes with these temporary or long lasting methods. If you have questions about which measures will work best for your pipes, contact a professional plumber.

Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger

When you notice your toilet is not flushing well or not filling up with water, you usually reach for a plunger. In most homes, this is a standard tool with very little difficulty to use. But what happens if you don’t have one handy? It may sound impossible, but there are ways you can try to unclog a toilet without a plunger. Read on for some doable tricks and tips to try before you run to the store to snag a toilet tool.

STEP 1: Cut the water to the toiletIllustration of a cartoon stick figure looking perplexed at an overflowing toilet

Always start with stopping the water flow to the clogged toilet. Remove the lid and pull up the float to stop water, then shut off the water at the valve on the wall.

STEP 2: Pour in hot (NOT BOILING) water a little bit at a time

Before you start, remove some water with a bucket or cup if the toilet is very very close to overflowing. If not, start pouring in very hot water a few cups at a time from the sink or tub. The hot water can loosen the clog in the toilet.

STEP 3: Try adding dish soap or shampoo to the hot water

If plain hot water doesn’t do the trick, add a little surfactant like dish soap, shampoo or even bar soap. To do this, remove as much water as you can from the toilet bowl and add in a generous amount of soap in the toilet. If you are using bar soap, break it into smaller pieces and repeat pouring in hot water. This works by lubricating the clog and pipes so the blockage can move, allowing you to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

STEP 4: Use a wire hanger as a plunger replacement

If both of these options still leave you clogged, you may need to try to physically move the clog. Grab a wire hanger and try to “plunge” the toilet with the toilet cleaning brush. If the clog is almost cleared, a few forceful pumps of the brush and hanger could generate enough pressure to move it through the pipes.

STEP 5: Reverse course – buy the plunger

Is the water you’re pouring into the toilet is draining freely? Can you turn the water back on at the valve and flush the toilet again? If you used a surfactant, can you flush several times to remove residue? If yes, great, but if not, head to the store to purchase a plunger.

For plumbing problems that you can’t solve on your own, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Common Dishwasher Problems Solved

It’s a major headache when your dishwasher stops working. Dishwashers save time and are convenient for families, especially at the holidays! We have listed some of the common dishwasher problems and plumbing issues with ideas for how to fix them yourself.

How to Prevent Common Dishwasher Problems

Even when your dishwasher is problem-free, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the way it operates. Here are some dishwasher plumbing maintenance tips that could prevent a problem from occurring down the line.

  1. Make sure you are using the right kind of dish detergent, because the wrong type of detergent can clog the Image of upset man as dishwasher overflows with soap behind himdrain in your dishwasher. The manufacturer’s directions will tell you which kinds of detergent you can use before you try a new kind.
  2. Listen to the dishwasher while it’s on. If you know what your dishwasher sounds like when it’s working correctly, a problem arising will get your attention more quickly. Identifying one early is always best. Humming or clanking sounds might indicate a problem with the drainpipe or the motor.
  3. Pay attention when you are loading the dishwasher. Anyone can run into issues loading the dishwasher, especially if they’re in a hurry. Overloading and arranging dished haphazardly are common mistakes. Check the appliance manual for instructions about loading your dishwasher if you are ever unsure.

The Dishes Aren’t Clean

There are a few different situations that could cause your dishes to not get clean. Here are some factors to consider.

  • Is the float switch dirty? If so, the solution may be a bit tricky and you may need to call a professional. You will need to take the dishwasher apart and clean the float switch and the surrounding components. The switch might also just be stuck, which is something worth checking out.
  • Are you using the wrong detergent? Again, check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding what kind of dish soap you should be using. Sometimes, a fix as simple as changing the dish soap can cure the problem! It is really important you use the correct detergent because it can lead to other issues as well.

The Dishwasher Won’t Drain

Is the dishwasher draining? If not, try these steps to identify the problem.

  • Check to see if there are any blockages at the bottom of the machine. Sometimes food or utensils can fall in and block the drain.
  • Inspect the drain hose. Check for any kinks in the hose or if the garbage disposal is too full. If so, your dishwasher’s ability to drain might be impacted.

Still Having Dishwasher Plumbing Problems?

These tips can certainly go a long way toward helping you keep your dishwasher running well. If you need additional guidance, you might consider reaching out to a plumbing professional. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for professional assistance.

DIY Plumbing Tools and Gadgets

Household plumbing repairs can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s important to contact a professional plumber to fix the big problems, but small clogs and leaks are often DIY fixes. Having a well-stocked toolkit with plumbing tools and gadgets can make even the toughest DIY plumbing projects hassle-free, cost-effective and straightforward.

Seven Must-Have DIY Plumbing Tools and Gadgets

When you’re ready to tackle common household plumbing issues, you’re going to need a set of quality plumbing tools to help you get the job done quickly and correctly, with the least amount of strain and mess possible.

Most plumbing tools and gadgets you need for basic fixes are affordable and easy to find at your local hardware store. Along with basic tools — like a hammer, tape measure, screwdriver kit, tape and a utility knife — you can these gadgets will help you tackle commons projects.

man plunges toilet and grimaces

Plunger

Every plumber knows to keep a plunger nearby for any type of plumbing mishap. It’s the first tool plumbers use to dislodge clogs from kitchen sinks, toilets, floor drains and tubs or showers. Use a plunger properly by forming a firm seal between the plunger and the drain, then pull upward in a controlled motion. This will release the clog and prevent it from moving farther down into your pipes.

Hand Auger

When a plunger doesn’t have the power needed to remove stubborn clogs, it’s ideal to have a hand auger. This tool is also known as a drain snake. Most augers are available in lengths reaching up to 25 feet long. They’re made of flexible steel for improved durability and strength to get rid of the toughest sink and shower clogs.

Closet Auger

Similar to a hand auger, a closet auger is specially designed to fit inside a toilet to clear difficult clogs.

Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench helps you effortlessly remove and reattach hex-shaped compression nuts and supply line fittings. Consider buying an adjustable wrench in both 6″ and 10″ sizes for project flexibility. Find a quality product that holds firm and won’t slip under pressure.

Tongue and Groove Pliers

To quickly tighten, loosen, twist or remove parts, keep a pair of tongue and groove pliers available. These pliers have angled jaws, long handles and several adjustable positions for handling plumbing fixtures easily. Consider keeping two pliers available — one for stabilizing the fixture and the other to loosen or tighten it.

Hacksaw

For heavy-duty projects, use a hacksaw to smoothly cut through metal or plastic pipes and hardware. Keep extra blades around to easily switch out old, ineffective ones.

Basin Wrench

A basin wrench is best used for tightening and loosening the fasteners that secure sink faucets. This tool has a long handle and a swiveling jaw that can easily maneuver in narrow spaces behind sinks and hard-to-reach areas.

These plumbing tools and gadgets will help you tackle your home’s most common plumbing jobs. For projects that are bigger than small clogs and leads, call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Garbage Disposal Leaks 101

There are common causes for garbage disposal leaks – usually it’s a minor component being too loose or worn out. By finding from where your garbage disposal is leaking, you’ll be able to figure out why it’s leaking! And then you can fix it.

If your garbage disposal is leaking, it will likely leak from one of these places: the top, the pipe connections and the bottom. To find out if your disposal is leaking, check each common place where leaks start. Start with a flashlight to check for puddling, condensation, and other signs of water accumulation around or under your disposal.

So let’s find out what’s going on with your disposal.

Garbage disposals usually leak from four different places:

  1. The reset button (on the bottom of the disposal) – deactivates the disposal if it jams or the motor overloads.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection on the side of the disposal – where the flexible plastic dishwasher hose connects to the disposal.
  3. The sink flange – located at the top of the garbage disposal; connects the disposal to the top of the sink.
  4. The drain line connection – where the main drain pipe connects to the disposal via curving metal or PVC plastic pipes.

First, look for the obvious signs of garbage disposal leaks.

  • If you see any signs of leaking, check that it isn’t the sink itself or the sink’s p-trap. If not, check under your kitchen sink for puddling water, dampness, dripping or a musty smell. Grab a flashlight and bucket to look for each type of leak.
  • Turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it.
  • Then, fill up the kitchen sink with water about halfway. Add food coloring to the water so you can spot the leak.

You can locate the leak in the following ways:Woman holding a wrench checks for leaks under her kitchen sink

  • The reset button: The reset button is located in the bottom of the disposal unit. Check for a slow, constant drip or water accumulation under the unit.
  • The dishwasher hose connection: Start the dishwasher without turning back on the disposal. Watch the hose as the water runs from the dishwasher drain through it. Pay attention to the connections between the hose and disposal.
  • The sink flange: Check for dripping or accumulating water around the top and bottom of the ring of the flange. Use the flashlight to look for water coloring and feel for wetness.
  • The drain line connection: Check the drain line and disposal connection. Pay attention to the screws that fasten the line to the disposal and to the gap between the disposal and drain line.

If you find a leak at any of these points, find out why.

Each of the four common leaks have different causes and fixes. Here’s how to locate what caused it:

  1. The reset button: If your garbage disposal is leaking from either the reset button or at the bottom of the disposal it probably means a seal inside the unit has worn out. This can happen when a garbage disposal gets old.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection: If the dishwasher hose is leaking, it’s usually because the screws have loosened. This can happen because of rust or age. It’s also possible the drain hose or clamp are leaking.
  3. The sink flange: This part is held in place by plumber’s putty and bolts. The putty can deteriorate or the bolts rust or loosen, and the watertight seal between the flange and sink may break.
  4. The drain line connection: If the drain line is leaking, then either the screws have worn out, or the rubber gasket inside the assembly is leaking. Take down the drain line and check the gasket for wear and tear.

Now that you’ve identified the where and why, you’re ready to fix the problem.

The good news is fixing a leaking garbage disposal is usually straightforward, even when you might need a professional:

  1. The reset button: Unfortunately, if your garbage disposal leaks from the bottom it’s probably time to replace it.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection: First, try to tighten the screws on the metal clamp connecting the hose to the disposal. If the screws don’t tighten properly, replace them. If the hose is also leaking, you’ll have to replace it, too.
  3. The drain line connection: Try to fix this leak by tightening the connection between the pipe and disposal. Detach and reattach the pipe if tightening doesn’t work. If there are still issues, replace the screws or gasket.
  4. The sink flange: Unscrew and check the bolts for rust or other deterioration and replace them if needed. Then, remove the flange, scrap off the putty, and reapply new putty. Turn back on the water to test the seal.

Using these instructions, you should be able to identify and fix nearly any garbage disposal leak! Of course, sometimes unusual leaks happen. They can be tough to figure out, much less fix, so contact a professional in those situations. If you need the assistance of a licensed plumber, then call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

Plumbing Maintenance Guide

Summer is coming to an end and during a season transition it’s always a good idea to do some house maintenance to prepare for upcoming weather. Guarding against problems is easier and more cost effective than fixing them after they occur! Preparing your plumbing for fall and the months ahead is important – let’s look at this quick plumbing maintenance guide.

Clean the gutters around your home

Gutters become blocked in the summer and it’s common for leaves and branches to become trapped in them. In the

long term this will only become a larger problem when more leaves and branches fall in the coming months. Significant gutter clogs are a much bigger problem if they aren’t maintained, so it’s important to do some outdoor plumbing maintenance. Clearing your gutters at the end of summer lowers the chance you’ll end up with a clogged gutter in fall, or having water back up because it cannot drain from the roof properly.

Check and drain your water heater

So many other appliances depend on your water heater to function properly. As a result, your water heater must be in good working order to keep the rest of your home running smoothly. It’s also timely to drain your water heater, because there are a few hot summer days left and you can get by without hot water for a while.

  • Look for cracks or rust, wet spots and leaks. These are signs it’s time to call a plumber.
  • Also, if you find rust, leaks or cracks on the anode rods or pressure relief valves, immediately call a plumber.
  • Once you’ve inspected the water heater, drain the tank. This is an annual maintenance task and is done to flush out the sediment that may have built up over the year. Sediment build up can damage the inside of your unit,

    making a loud popping sound.

Check your all your fixtures, appliances and pipes

  • Even the smallest of leaks can waste gallons of water every year. Anything that holds or moves water needs to be checked.

The sink

  • Visually check underneath your sinks. Do you see evidence of water? Is there a sign of past water damage? Try running the water for a few seconds. When you turn it off, check the pipes below. If you see water dripping around them you may have a leak. If you are unsure if it’s serious, check with your plumbing professional.

The toilet

  • Toilets create many household leaks. They can be tricky to find or monitor. If you want to see if you are flushing extra time and money down the toilet, put some food coloring in the tank. Don’t flush the toilet for a few hours. When you go back, check to see if there’s food coloring in the toilet bowl, If so, you know your toilet is leaking.

The washing machine and dishwasher

  • Visually check your washing machine and dishwasher to ensure they are operating efficiently. Do you see any water damage around the connections? The next time you run either one, take a look and make sure everything is tight and no water is escaping.

The pipes

  • Lastly, but not least – check your pipes for leaks. Problem pipes are prone to freezing or busting in the winter. If you notice any rust or leaks on your pipes, call a plumber. While you’re checking into it, you may want to ask about insulating your pipes before winter to protect them from freezing conditions.

If you have concerns after running through our quick plumbing maintenance guide, you may need a professional plumber. For expert help, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

 

7 Most Common Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems often come with home ownership. Some problems come with aging fixtures or normal wear and tear, but other problems may be caused by how the systems are used or maintained. Let’s take a look at the seven most common plumbing problems.

1.       Weak water pressure

Weak water pressure can challenge any plumbing system. It’s usually a sign of a bigger problem like hidden water leaks, drain or sewer clogs, cracked or backed up sewer lines, or pipe corrosion.

2.       Dripping faucets

Dripping faucets are wasteful, annoying and costly. Sometimes, these drips can be the result of a worn-out washer, which is easy to replace. Other times; however, corrosion or poorly installed faucets can be the problem.

3.       Leaking pipesWoman looks frustrated by leaking pipe under her kitchen sink

Leaking pipes are the result of one of many sorts of problems, including: corrosion, clogs,  damage to pipe joints, excessive water pressure or cracked seals or pipes.

No matter what’s the cause, this common plumbing problem needs attention fast! Leaving leaking pipes ignored only creates more damage, therefore, causing trouble for your plumbing system and to your home itself.

4.       Clogged or slow drains

Drainage problems can cause health hazards and major plumbing disasters if left undone. In general, one slow or clogged drain in the home means the problem is localized to that area. Typically, these clogs are the result of soap or hair, for instance, and other build-up over time. Routine drain cleaning can solve this problem. Multiple slow or clogged drains typically mean you are dealing with sewer line problems.

5.       Water heater problems

Hot water is necessary in every home, so when water heaters can’t work properly, then homeowners can be dealing with a crisis. Usually, when water heaters have problems they are caused by issues like loose or broken electrical connections, improper water heater installation, heating element issues, or corrosion buildup in systems.

6.       Running Toilets

Running toilets may waste up to 200 gallons of water per day! In most cases, the issues that cause running toilets include: corroded toilet handles, refill tube problems, improperly sized flapper chains or worn out seals or valves.

7.       Sump Pump Failure

This plumbing issue can be related to a problem with the unit or an outside issue. In most cases, sump pump failures include aging (sump pumps around 10 years old or more), clogged discharge pipes, stuck switches, a large amount of water, like after a heavy rain storm, or improper installation.

Sometimes the most common plumbing problems can still be too big for a DIY homeowner to handle. For help from a professional plumber, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.