Garbage Disposals – a Do and Don’t List

Garbage disposals are a convenient way to manage food waste in your kitchen. With proper maintenance you can avoid clogged drains and stinky, costly repairs. Treat your garbage disposal well, and it will treat you well! Below we share some tips on how to keep your disposal working smoothly for many years and minimize the likelihood that you’ll need to call for plumbing or drain cleaning services.

Proper maintenance and operation will extend the life of your garbage disposal and prevent plumbing and drain mishaps.

DO Follow these Tips . . .

  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. Pour a little dish soap inside and let the garbage disposal run for a minute or so with cold water after washing dishes.
  • Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, assures that all parts stay moving and prevents obstructions from accumulating.
  • Grind food waste with a strong flow of cold water. Using cold water will cause any grease or oils that may get into the unit to solidify, so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.
  • Grind certain hard materials such as small chicken and fish bones, egg shells and small fruit pits. A scouring action is created by these materials that cleans the unit.
  • Cut large items into smaller pieces. Add them into the garbage disposal one at a time instead of trying to push through a large amount at once.

DON’T Dare . . .

Water runs smoothly through a clean garbage disposal

Only put biodegradable food in garbage disposals. These appliances are not trash cans! Non-food items can damage both blades and the motor.

When in doubt, throw it out!

  • Don’t grind glass, plastic, metal or paper.
  • Don’t grind anything combustible.
  • Don’t grind cigarette butts
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain.
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing drains to clog.
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains .
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. Then, turn off the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds to flush out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running.
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal such as pasta and rice. They expand when you add water in a pot and do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal.
  • Avoid putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the unit and they’ll help eliminate odors, but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They can damage blades and pipes. Opt for a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer.

Ice is an extremely effective and inexpensive method for cleaning your garbage disposal, sharpening the blades and breaking up any grease build-up which has accumulated. A few ice cubes tossed in the garbage disposal which it’s running will chop the ice and scour all the hard to reach areas of the unit. Try this once or twice a month to keep your garbage disposal in good working order.

Keep Smells at Bay

Here are some natural methods to clean your garbage disposal that are good for the environment and are very inexpensive.

  • Take a lemon or orange and toss it into the disposal. The oils and juice from the fruits and peels naturally clean the walls inside the garbage disposal and create a fresh, long-lasting scent.
  • Freeze vinegar in ice cube trays and run those down the disposal. This will keep your blades sharp while safely killing odor-causing bacteria.
  • For stubborn odors pour baking soda into the drain and let it set for several hours before running the water and disposal.
  • For really stubborn odors, use a safe, natural cleaning product like Borax. Just pour 3-4 tablespoons of Borax down the drain and let it sit for an hour. Then turn on the hot water and flush the cleanser away.

Troubleshooting

Most garbage disposals that appear not to be working just need to be reset. There is usually a red or black reset button on the garbage disposal motor underneath your sink. Just push to reset. If the garbage disposal is plugged into a wall outlet, ensure the outlet has power. If that doesn’t work, check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

If the reset doesn’t work, then we are here to help!  Contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Heating, & Plumbing at 1.800.461.3010 to schedule a visit with a plumbing expert.

 

Prepare Your Home for Snow and Ice: Winter Safety Tips

Falling snow is a beautiful part of winter, but it can also pose potential dangers for homeowners. It’s important to prepare your home for snow and ice so you can stay safe and prevent extra work down the road. To ensure no problems show up and to keep your family safe, these projects should be done throughout the coldest months.

Prevent Water Damage

  • Ventilate the attic and insulate the attic floor to stop warm air in the house from melting snow and ice on the roof.
  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation sleeves.
  • Caulk cracks and holes in the home’s outer walls and foundation. Holes left by cable installation can also leave pipes exposed.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around pipes.
  • Trickle water from any faucet connected to pipes that run through unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the home’s main water valve, usually found in the basement or outside near the curb. Turn water off quickly if a pipe does burst.
  • If you are traveling and leave the house unoccupied for an extended period, shut off the water and have a professional drain the system. Turn the heat down, but don’t turn it off.

Buy a carbon-monoxide detector.It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home

  • Install carbon-monoxide detectors on all floors of your home to prevent one of the biggest winter dangers, carbon-monoxide poisoning. This can happen when ventilation of furnaces, generators, charcoal-burning or propane-burning devices, or wood-burning stoves are not properly ventilated.

Buy a generator

  • Use a generator to keep your heat and power running. This includes your sump pump, and your fire and burglar alarms.
  • Consider installing an automatic standby generator, which immediately turns on after a power outage. You may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.

Prepare for a Flood

  • When snow and ice begin to melt, be aware of flooding for localized trouble spots around your house. Water can buildup can seep into your foundation and flood the basement.
  • If you have a sump pump, check to ensure it’s working properly in advance.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Clean exhaust fans and filters in the bathrooms and kitchens because we spend more time indoors.
  • Dust and airborne particles can cause indoor air quality issues in the absence of adequate ventilation. They can even become a fire hazard.
  • Monitor other filters in your home, including cleaning out the dryer’s filter and replacing the furnace filter.

Prepare Your Pipes for the Cold

  • Prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so they should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth.
  • In extreme cold weather, open water lines slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an indoor sink.

Prevent Icy Gutters

  • Clean gutters before the snow falls to help prevent water and ice buildup that could eventually find its way into your home.
  • After the colder weather arrives, look for clogged gutters by checking for large icicles hanging from them and/or an accumulation of ice on the roof.

Eliminate Outdoor Electrical Problems

  • Prevent electrical problems by inspecting the outside of your home. Specifically, look for damaged or frayed wires vulnerable to harm from snow and ice.
  • Check for any bird nests near electrical fixtures. Nests can cause a fire.
  • Make sure any electronic decorations have tight-fitting connections: three-pronged outlets are optimal. These cords should be stored away from main walkways, and never beneath a carpet or rug, as this creates a fire hazard.

For professional help with your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 1.800.461.3010. This winter, we can help you prepare your home for snow and ice!

Protect Outdoor Faucets During Winter

Winterizing your outdoor faucet, also known as a hose bib or water spigot, is a simple, but important project. Done correctly, you can save your pipes from freezing and prevent the costly consequences that come with frozen pipes. A frozen outdoor faucet can cause serious water damage to your home and property. Luckily, it is easy to protect outdoor faucets during winter, if you follow these tips.

Why Do I Need to Protect my Outdoor Faucets?

Water expands as it freezes, so if water is inside your pipes when the temperature drops below freezing, the ice can grow too large and burst the pipe. The problem may not be immediately obvious, especially if the leak is inside the wall. A good indicator that there’s an issue is if there’s water spraying outside.

If you see water around the spigot or inside your house, call your plumber immediately! Extensive damage can result if you wait too long to fix.

Thankfully, avoiding a frozen outdoor faucet is easy and not expensive to do yourself. A few minutes now can save you time, money and inconvenience.

Avoid a Frozen Faucet During Winter with 4 Easy Steps:

1. Disconnect your hoses before winter

This step is important because a connected hose holds water even when the faucet is turned off. When the temperature drops, any water inside the hose freezes inside of the hose and pipe and can burst. We often see instances where the break happens in winter but people don’t notice until spring when they turn on the outdoor faucet. Depending on where the break is, you can get water spraying inside or outside your home when you turn the water on.Protect Outdoor Faucets from Freezing

2. Use an outdoor faucet cover

Disconnecting the hose is important, but doesn’t completely solve the problem – you also need a faucet cover. Covers are easy to install and will help protect your outdoor faucets during winter. Luckily, most hardware stores carry inexpensive covers that keep faucets protected from the winter elements. After you purchase and install, based on the manufacturer’s instructions, be sure to secure it tightly in place. This little step can save you a lot of frustration and potential water damage.

3. Install a frost-free faucet

If you have already experienced problems or are looking for a more permanent solution, you can talk to your plumber about replacing your faucet with a frost-free spigot. This is an outdoor faucet designed to operate in freezing temperatures. You will still disconnect the hose in the winter. The faucet can break if the hose is left connected because the water stays trapped in the faucet head and pipe. You won’t notice there’s a problem until spring when you turn on the faucet.

4. If you leave town, shut off the water

If you’re leaving town for a few days or more, turn the water off at the main shutoff. That way, if frozen pipes do crack, you’ll have far less damage. Don’t forget to shut off your automatic ice maker, so it doesn’t continue to make ice. Even if the ice bin is full, the ice will evaporate and the ice maker will try to make more.

A few preventative steps today to ensure your pipes are safe this winter can save you time, money and effort in the future. Call a trusted plumber at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electric (800.461.3010) right away if you suspect that your faucet is broken or you need help winterizing it. We will help you decide what works best for you, your family and your home.

Protect Your Foundation and Plumbing with Gutter Maintenance

Gutters play an essential role in moving water away from your home and protecting its foundation. Having proper gutters for your home can prevent plumbing problems, particularly in the wet, cold winter months.

Most homes have standard 5-inch aluminum or vinyl gutters, but they aren’t created equal, and there are cases where they just don’t cut it. Soil erosion from excess rain run-off can cause foundation instability that can impact your plumbing and sewer system. As cooler temps arrive, pipes and joints contract and can become unstable. This is the case with both pipes bringing water to the home and outgoing sewer plumbing, which can be a major concern if not addressed. Rain water is a major cause of erosion around your home, so how do you prevent it?

The surface area and pitch of your roof is a big factor in how much water the gutters have to be able to handle during a heavy downpour. Most ranch style or tri-level homes have sprawling, large roofs and therefore have to move more water. 6-inch gutters are recommended for roof surface areas of over 3500 square feet or a steep roof that is more likely to catch blowing rain.Gutter Overflowing with Leaves

(For the math enthusiasts: you can determine the exact pitch of your roof and how it is factored in your surface area by using this equation ((rise/run)² + 2) and finding the square root.)

If you have trees near or hanging over your home, fall is the perfect time to prepare for winter rain and snow. Clogged gutters can be just as detrimental to your home’s foundation as having no gutters at all. Because plumbing pipes are not flexible they become brittle over time, and even a small amount of foundation soil erosion can cause pipes to freeze more easily. Mesh or screen guards can prevent clogging in the gutters…but they are prone to clogging themselves and require regular cleaning. If you live in a wooded area, leaf-free gutters might be a worthwhile investment. They have a flat top with channels that collect water, but let leaves and debris run off. They’re really very effective during steady moderate rain but may not be able to handle the volume of a heavy downpour.

If you’ve had erosion around the foundation of your home, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric at 800.461.3010 to have your plumbing inspected!

Signs Your Water Heater Needs Maintenance

Tucked away in a closet, basement, or garage, our water heaters are often out of sight, out of mind.  It’s a good idea to check regularly to see if your water heater needs maintenance and to observe its function. You’ll want to catch potential problems early, before they cause damage to the water heater or your home.

Here are several signs to look for:

Your water heater is dripping, or water is gathered around it Hot water heater

If your water heater is dripping water, this could be coming from the drain valve or from the tank itself.  Check your water heater regularly to see if there is any water dripping or any puddles have formed. Sitting water can cause serious damage to the walls and floors. If you suspect that your water heater has a leak, call a professional to see if it needs maintenance or replacing.

Your water looks discolored

If your water has any signs of rust or a brown tint to it, then you may have a problem with your water heater. The brown color or rust in your water may be a symptom of your water heater corroding. When this happens, the rust and corrosion from the heater can come off in the water. It’s also possible that there are other sediments in your water that are causing the discoloration.

 Your water isn’t hot

This sign is rather obvious, but if your water is cool or cold, it could be a sign that your water heater needs maintenance.  First, how much hot water is in use? If you have the washer running at the same time while doing dishes, and someone is also taking a shower, then these sources running at one time will drain the hot water. If this happens on a regular basis where you can’t get hot water when running the sink or shower, then it could mean a few things. The tubes may have damage. There could also be a bad energy supply to your home that’s causing the lack of hot water. A third possible cause is a faulty heating element.  It’s also important to monitor whether or not your water temperature is too hot, due to a faulty water heater.  Tap water scald is a serious danger, especially for children and the elderly.

When dealing with any maintenance or repairs, it’s always safest and best to call a professional. Not only can a professional do the maintenance or repair work, but they also provide peace of mind for you knowing it’s done the right way! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical to check your water heater for any signs of damage. We can also provide routine maintenance on your water heater! While we’re out there, we will check for any money-wasting leaks. Our services also include maintaining and/or fixing drain pipes, exposed hot and cold water lines, and ventilation systems!

Call today to schedule your appointment at 800-461-3010.

Misconceptions About Your Septic System

The plumbing system is one of the home’s major functions. It’s often an overlooked part of the home that receives little to no maintenance. Homeowners often don’t pay attention to their plumbing system until it’s too late when a problem comes up. You may be wondering more about your septic system, how it operates, and what kind of maintenance it requires. We will address some common misunderstandings about your septic system and what you can do to help prevent problems.

Myth #1 – If you have a slow draining shower, tub, washing machine, sink or toilet, this is not a problem and you shouldn’t worry about it. The reality is that this could be an indication of a problem related to your plumbing system.

Truth- If you do notice a slow draining sink or tub, contact a professional to come out and check it. It could be a sign that your tank needs to be pumped.

Myth #2 – you don’t have to get you septic tank pumped often.

Truth – This is definitely a misconception, and your septic tank should be pumped and inspected every one to three years. How often you should get your septic tank pumped will depend on the size of your home and the amount of occupants in your home.

Myth #3 – You need to use additives in your septic system.

Truth – This is also a myth. Using additives will not prevent backup. They also won’t prevent you from needing to get your system periodically pumped. And using additives also won’t break down solids properly.

Myth #4 – It’s okay to put chemicals, medicines and foods down the drain because it won’t harm your septic system.

Truth – It’s always best to put only liquids, septic-safe toilet paper, and other septic safe products. If you stick to septic-safe products and liquids, this will be best for your septic system and also your pipes and plumbing.

Myth #5 – Well water doesn’t require any maintenance.

Truth – This is definitely a myth. If you have a septic system, you’ll need to get your well water tested every year to ensure that the nitrate levels aren’t too high. If the nitrate levels are too high, this could mean that the waste water is overflowing and leaching into your system.

Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can provide routine maintenance on your septic system and doing a yearly pump for your septic system. We can also perform dye tests on all your toilets to ensure that there are no water leaks, which equate to money wasting. If your toilets are connected to a septic tank and there’s a water leak, then you could be wasting even more money! Not only can we provide dye tests, but we can also check all faucets in your home and all exposed hot and cold water lines to identify and repair any water leaks in your home.

Give us a call today to schedule your appointment! 800-461-3010

How to Fix a Faucet Leak

Being a homeowner requires a lot of work and maintenance through the seasons and repair when things break. It’s also highly rewarding to be a homeowner. You should be proud knowing that you own a place to raise your family and make memories! Try to remember the positives when you have frustrating maintenance and repair issues that arise periodically. Plumbing is often an area that homeowners often experience problems with or need fixing. So, what happens if you experience a leaky faucet and want to try to fix it yourself? We’ve outlined the steps to fix it below:

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is turn the water off that connects to all the parts of the sink and remove any decorative handles or knobs.
  • Then, you’ll want to loosen the screw that attaches to the handle to the stem of the knob.
  • Next, use a flat-head screwdriver to loosen the screw that connects the handle to the stem of the knob. After the screw has been removed, use some WD-40 to remove the handle. Once is has been complete, it’s time to remove the packing nut by using a wrench. The final step of this part of the process is removing the stem. It depends what kind of faucet you have – some will easily come off and other may need to be twisted.
  • Now it’s time to look at the O-ring and washer that is located inside the valve seat. The reason why you’ll want to look at this is because it’s often the cause of water leaks. Remove the washer and replace it. It’s important that the replacement washer and O-ring fit precisely.
  • Next, you’ll want to check the sides to see if they fit either a cone-shaped washer or a flat shaped one instead. You can always take a picture to bring along to the store to make sure you get the correct one, or better yet, bring the O-ring to the store to compare and verify you get the correct new one.
  • Since you have removed everything and disassembled the parts to the sink, it’s time to re-assemble them. Once you have assembled everything, test out the faucet to see if you have fixed the leak. When doing this, turn on the faucet slowly.
  • If you get to the point of testing the faucet and it’s still leaking, then there may be corrosion your valve seat. If the valve seat is not cleaned on a regular basis, it can cause leaks near the spout. It may also be due to worn out seals or loose parts.

When dealing with any maintenance or repairs, it’s always safest and best to call a professional. Not only can a professional do the maintenance or repair work, but also provide peace of mind knowing it’s done the right way! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical to check or fix your faucet for leaks, and we’ll also to check on your water heater, drain pipes, exposed hot and cold water lines and ventilation systems! If the kitchen faucet is leaking, it could be costing you extra money and could be also be providing a lower water pressure if there’s a leak.

Give us a call today Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

Have you Winterized your Water Heater?

Have you Winterized your Water Heater?

It’s important to have your home ready for the coldest months of the year and have everything operating in proper condition. It’s especially vital to make sure that your hot water heater is maintained and running like it should, otherwise you face the risk of taking cold showers during the freezing months! Your hot water heater can also take a beating in the midst of the cold weather, which is yet another reason to have maintenance performed.

Regardless of the make or model, it needs to be winterized. Here are some ways to maintain your hot water heater:

  • Just like rinsing out a glass, your water heater needs to be flushed out and cleaned. After water continually running through it, there is a natural sediment build-up. If you’d like to do this maintenance step yourself, you can do it by turning off the water heater, let it cool down, then attach a hose to the drain valve and find a place to allow the water to properly drain.
  • If you have an older tank, insulate it so they can hold heat better. There are fiber glass insulation blankets that keep your tank warm so that the water pumping through your showers also stays warm.
  • A water tank needs an actual pressure release valve to keep it from bursting. During the winter time, it’s especially important to add this to your maintenance list. You can check this by lifting the lever on top of the valve a couple times to check for any leaks. There should be a faint hiss sound or water when you open it. If you don’t hear any of those noises, it’s time to replace it immediately. Make sure there is proper vent draft so that your water heater is not allowing excessive formation of carbon monoxide. This could pose a serious risk if it enters your home.
  • If you have a gas water heater, check for any gas leaks from the water heater shut-off valve to the burners. Any leaks could be dangerous and also costly, due to higher gas bills. .
  • Water leaks can also reveal a serious problem. Check to make sure that your water heater does not have any leaks which could also be costing you significantly more each month.

Some of this maintenance requires a professional’s help, and we’re here for you 24/7! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to perform maintenance on your electric or gas hot water heater. Our maintenance will include things like flushing the water heater, relief valve testing, checking for water leaks, testing the emergency cutoff, inspecting the drain valve operation and much more! We want you to have peace of mind that your hot water heater is operating efficiently, and that your showers will continue to stay warm!

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

Why You Should Consider a Pressure Reducing Valve

Most people have problems in their showers or sinks with the water pressure being too low – rarely do you hear of them complaining about water pressure being too strong. People generally want as much water pressure as they are able to get from their faucet or shower. Since low water pressure is a common occurring problem, you may be wondering why anyone would want a water-reducing pressure valve. Well, a few of the reasons below may cause you to reconsider: 

  • A pressure reducing valve can be beneficial to your home appliances. These are not cheap items to replace, and it’s important to make sure that your investments in appliances are taken care of. If the water pressure in your dish washer is too high, it could potentially place stress on your appliance, which over time, could require you to replace it. The lifetime of your appliances will significantly diminish if they are constantly under the stress of high water pressure.
  • If any of your water hoses become crimped, they could cause some serious water damage once released. One of the most dangerous water flooding threats to a home is caused by washing machine hoses that burst. Because many people pick up washing machine hoses that can be picked up at DIY stores, this causes even more of a potential flood disaster. Having a pressure reducing valve will ensure that your laundry room doesn’t get flooded.
  • Not only do appliances suffer from a high water pressure, but so do plumbing fixtures. Of course you don’t want shower under a trickling spout, but there’s a balance between having a pressure that’s strong enough to shower under, but also that doesn’t take a toll on your appliances and plumbing fixtures. Your shower should provide the optimum amount of water input that will be enough pressure for you to shower, but not too much that strains your shower head.
  • Installing a pressure reducing valve will help determine the optimal water pressure in your home. Although most people think that they are good judges of the right water pressure, it’s always best to have a professional come out to evaluate and determine what’s best for your home as well as the appliances and plumbing fixtures inside. If you are frustrated with a water pressure that is too low, you don’t have to settle for this.

Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can come out to check the water pressure in your home and install pressure reducing valves! While we’re out there, we can also perform dye tests on all your toilets to ensure that there are no water leaks, which equate to money wasting. If your toilets are connected to a septic tank and there’s a water leak, then you could be wasting even more money! Not only can we provide dye tests, but we can also check all the exposed hot and cold water lines to identify and repair any water leaks in your home.

Give us a call today to schedule your appointment! 800-461-3010.

How To Winterize Your Hot Water Heater

It’s important to have your home ready for the coldest months of the year and have everything operating in proper condition. It’s especially vital to make sure that your hot water heater is maintained and running like it should, otherwise you face the risk of taking cold showers during the freezing months! Your hot water heater can also take a beating in the midst of the cold weather, which is yet another reason to have maintenance performed. Regardless of the make or model, it needs to be winterized. Here are some ways to winterize your hot water heater:

  •  Just like rinsing out a glass, your water heater needs to be flushed out and cleaned. After water continually running through it, there is a natural sediment build-up. If you’d like to do this maintenance step yourself, you can do it by turning off the water heater, let it cool down, then attach a hose to the drain valve and find a place to allow the water to properly drain.
  • If you have an older tank, insulate it so they can hold heat better. There are fiber glass insulation blankets that keep your tank warm so that the water pumping through your showers also stays warm.
  • A water tank needs an actual pressure release valve to keep it from bursting. During the winter time, it’s especially important to add this to your maintenance list. You can check this by lifting the lever on top of the valve a couple times to check for any leaks. There should be a faint hiss sound or water when you open it. If you don’t hear any of those noises, it’s time to replace it immediately.
  • Make sure there is proper vent draft so that your water heater is not allowing excessive formation of carbon monoxide. This could pose a serious risk if it enters your home.
  • If you have a gas water heater, check for any gas leaks from the water heater shut-off valve to the burners. Any leaks could be dangerous and also costly, due to higher gas bills. .
  • Water leaks can also reveal a serious problem. Check to make sure that your water heater does not have any leaks which could also be costing you significantly more each month.

Some of this maintenance requires a professional’s help, and we’re here for you 24/7! Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to perform maintenance on your electric or gas hot water heater.

Our maintenance will include things like flushing the water heater, relief valve testing, checking for water leaks, testing the emergency cutoff, inspecting the drain valve operation and much more! We want you to have peace of mind that your hot water heater is operating efficiently, and that your showers will continue to stay warm!

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.