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.

 

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.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Do you know when to try DIY plumbing and when to opt for a professionally licensed plumber? The difference often comes down to the size and scope of a job. Simple fix plumbing jobs and repairs can usually be handled by a homeowner or someone with basic handyman skills. However, there are times you need a licensed professional, too. Let’s look at the difference so you know when to call a professional plumber.

DIY or Basic Handyman Jobs

The first step in deciding who to call for a plumbing job is to assess the severity of the situation. Smaller, non-invasive fixes are jobs for a handy homeowner or handyman plumbers. These include fixes dealing with toilets, showerheads, sinks, and other smaller plumbing fixtures around the house, but not cutting walls.

Consider DIY or a Basic Handyman when:

  • You have a minor clog
  • A new faucet, toilet, or showerhead needs to be installed
  • The faucet needs repair or replacing
  • You have leaky faucets
  • A garbage disposal needs installing
  • You have a repair that doesn’t require cutting into the wall or floor
  • Your toilet handles or arms are broken
  • The toilet seat is broken and needs replacement
  • The flapper or other toilet tank pieces need fixing

There are times when you need a licensed professional plumber for the job. Most of them have years of training or apprenticeships to learn the trade, and as a result, will save you time and money in the long run.

When to call a professional plumber:bathroom remodels require the help of a professional plumber

  • You have no water in the house
  • There are burst pipes
  • There are major sump pump problems
  • You have a rapid drainage line leak
  • You have a rapid water supply line leak
  • The bathroom needs a remodel
  • A supply line needs installation or replacement
  • A tub or shower needs installation
  • Clogged pipes that won’t correct with a drain snake
  • You have a sewer line leak or gaseous odors
  • Your water heater has a natural gas leak
  • There are issues with water temperature or gas pressure
  • You have plumbing repairs that require cutting into the wall or floor

If you need to call a professional plumber, the experts at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical can help. Call 800.461.3010 for assistance.

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring has arrived! If you are ready to clean out the closets, scrub the floors and purge excess items, don’t forget to give some TLC to your plumbing and fixtures that keep your home running smoothly. Our spring home maintenance list will help. From kitchens and bathrooms to appliances, drains and outside pipes, your systems need inspection and cleaning. Here are some tips to be sure you don’t miss a thing!

General spring home maintenance

  • Check the basement and sink pipes for leaks.
  • If you have a sewer in an area, install a back flow valve in the floor drain. This could prevent future problems.
  • Fill drains with a gallon of water to also help prevent odors. Snake slow floor drains so they continue to carry water away in the event of rushing water.
  • Do you have a sump pump? Keep it running properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the pit. After the pump turns on, it should discharge the water then shut off without problems.
  • Help mitigate flooding with a flood alarm. It will operate like a smoke alarm and sound when it comes in contact with water, alerting you to potential flooding or leaks.

Appliances

  • Adjust the temperature on the water heater to no higher than 120°F. This will prevent scalding and energy overuse.
  • Flush the water heater tank with several gallons of water to flush out corrosion causing sediment. By doing this you will reduce heating inefficiency and lengthen the life of the heater.
  • If your water heater is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it. There are more energy efficient models out there.
  • Remove flammables if they are stored near the water heater or furnace.
  • Check all the supply hoses on your washing machine, dishwasher and ice maker for bulges or leaks. Replace any hoses that are showing age or are older than ten years – stainless steel hoses are most reliable.
  • Check on your washing machine lint trap, and if you can, place a wire trap or a piece of pantyhose over the end of the hose that drains the washer.
  • Clean your garbage disposal. It’s a very important part of your kitchen, be sure to give it some love! Clean it and be sure to only put in it what’s intended to go down the drain.

Kitchen and bathrooms

  • Repair dripping or leaky faucets. This will help you to save water.
  • Pop in a drain strainer to catch soap, hair and debris from clogging the drain lines.
  • Test the toilets for leaks. To do this just add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. Color will appear in the bowl if the toilet is leaking.
  • Give the area behind the toilet a good cleaning, especially if it isn’t part of your normal routine.
  • You may need to replace toilet parts if the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running. By doing this inexpensive task you will lower your water bill.
  • Don’t neglect your shower head. Mineral deposits collect, but it can be cleaned – soak it overnight in a plastic baggie of vinegar. In the morning, remove and gently scrub with an old toothbrush. While you’re at it, tackle everything from the doors to the floor to remove soap scum and shine dull-looking fixtures.

Outdoors

  • It’s the perfect time to clean out gutters, downspouts and yard drains. Use a drain snake to clear out any debris that could cause a clog.
  • Clean out any birds nests in plumbing vent pipes.
  • Check hoses and faucets to make sure water is flowing freely. If you have an outdoor faucet dripping you may have had a frozen pipe that needs to be replaced.

Need professional help? Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Choosing your toilet is a matter of comfort and cost

It’s an often overlooked centerpiece of your bathroom, but when it comes to choosing a toilet, you have many considerations to make. From an efficiency standpoint, 1.6 gallons per flush is the standard in the United States – higher and lower-end models will most likely use the same amount of water.  So what differentiates one stool from the next? When it comes down to it, it’s a matter of style and conveniences.

Gravity toilets vs. power-assist toilets

One decision you make when choosing a commode is whether to pick a gravity or a power-assist model. A gravity toilet, standard in many homes, allows only gravity to move waste to a sewer system. After flushing water from the tank fills the toilet and sends waste through the tubes for disposal. With a power-assist model, additional forced air helps do the job. What’s the difference? A compressor or pressure tank helps with power-assist toilets, instead of only relying on gravity. In this case water flows into a tank of compressed air which pressures the water to move when someone flushes.

Comfort and cost

As with many homeowner decisions, choosing a toilet model comes down to comfort and cost. And the more comfortable a toilet is, the higher its price tag. For instance, a higher-end model could include a bidet. It works by washing you with warm water. Some luxury models also include a heated seat or embedded antimicrobial properties.

Some luxe models also include:

  • Auto raise and lowering toilet seat covers
  • Music
  • Auto flush (powered by a sensor)

A slightly less expensive toilet might flush when you put the lid down or give you the option to use varied water amounts, using less for strictly liquids. Another option that is appealing to people who want easier cleaning, is to purchase a wall-mounted toilet.

When considering the purchase of a high-end commode, keep in mind that while custom seats and unusual flush mechanisms add a cool factor, replacing parts will cost you additional time and money.

A higher sitting stool can be more comfortable for taller and older people. American With Disabilities Act have heights of 17 – 19 inches instead of the standard 15 inches. Of course this will take some maneuvering if you have young children in the house.

Cost-savings

For cost-savings, there are many options such as a three-sided tank for smaller bathrooms. When faced with a small amount of floor space, homeowners can choose a toilet that can be cemented to a wall and house the tank within that wall. Toilets built in two pieces are some of the least expensive models, because it takes more work to mold everything together instead of assembling various parts separately. Color will also make a difference in the cost of your commode. Choosing a white toilet could cost as much as $150 less than a gray one.

Keep in mind that designer toilets are usually not friendly in a re-sale. Cushioned seats, colors and other luxury features are typically based on an individual’s taste and often in disagreement with someone else’s ideas of the perfect stool.

For all your plumbing needs, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Plumbing pipes are not invincible

Plumbing pipes are not invincible, although many homeowners do not often think about their age and condition. Pipes have a limited lifespan and depending on when your home was built, it may be time for an upgrade. Modern plumbing systems use copper, brass or PVC pipes. These materials have different lifespans and none are meant to last forever.

Eras of Pipe Materials

For instance, if your home was built before 1970, then it likely was part of the Galvanized Steel Age of piping. A house that was built even before then may put it in the Cast Iron Age ,which is usually pre-World War II. Materials such as iron and steel are durable, but they’re also no longer used for plumbing systems. Both materials have limitations, such as susceptibility to corrosion. Internal corrosion is what can lead to toxins like lead getting into the water supply and any corrosion also weakens pipes making them more likely for them to break.

In homes with 50+ year-old piping you may already have hidden leaks developing. With pipes at this age you may want to have leak detection done to point out any issues with the condition of your plumbing.

In the 1970s copper became the most common type of metal for plumbing. It was attractive because of its lower cost, lightweight and corrosion resistance. If your copper pipes are extremely old you may need partial repiping, but probably not whole-house repiping.

Pipes like those that were used in homes built  in the later 1970s and 1980s are made with one of the most popular types of plastic pipes, polybutylene – easily recognized by its gray color. Polybutylene was primarily the material of choice in the 1980s until it was discovered how easily it becomes brittle and breaks. Any polybutylene pipes in your house should be replaced with other types of plastic.

Other ways to determine if your pipes might need an upgrade are these signs of aging:

Water color

Discolored water coming out of the tap could be a sign that the water pipes are corroded and need to be replaced as soon as possible.

Unpleasant odors

Odors coming from plumbing fixtures could indicate a blockage in the sewer. Over time gases could build up over time and lead to sewer leaks that can affect your whole property.

Water stains

Staining that appears on walls and underneath plumbing pipes can indicate leaks.

Low water pressure

If your faucets are running lower than usual you could have a blockage in your plumbing system. A gradual loss of pressure doesn’t necessarily indicate an urgent problem. A sudden loss could mean there’s a broken or blocked pipe in your system.

Damage

Look for flaking, dents, discoloration and dimpling in your tubing. If there is damage or changes in the physical characteristics of plumbing pipes and tubing this can signal the need for replacement.

Leaks

Obvious leaks and drips coming from your pipes are the most reliable signs that a plumbing problem requires replacement at some level.

Lead

Buildings constructed before 1978 are at a major risk of containing lead. If this is the case, there is a chance that these fixtures could contaminate drinking water.

If you aren’t sure about the condition of your home’s pipes, have a plumbing specialist analyze the plumbing system and check for leaks. Once a professional has evaluated your system they can give you an honest answer about what services you may need. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.