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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- The reset button (on the bottom of the disposal) – deactivates the disposal if it jams or the motor overloads.
- The dishwasher hose connection on the side of the disposal – where the flexible plastic dishwasher hose connects to the disposal.
- The sink flange – located at the top of the garbage disposal; connects the disposal to the top of the sink.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- The reset button: Unfortunately, if your garbage disposal leaks from the bottom it’s probably time to replace it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
You may have heard that putting coffee grounds down the sink (or garbage disposal) can clean and freshen the scent in the drain. While they won’t harm the garbage disposal, and they will help eliminate odors, grounds will accumulate in drains and pipes. This will lead to clogs, so it’s best to avoid. Your garbage disposal is not a trash can, and shouldn’t be treated that way. There are better ways to dispose of coffee grounds.
Why can’t coffee grounds go down the drain if food can?
Unlike most foods, coffee grounds clump together in water while many foods break down. Over time the grounds will build up and create clogs that don’t allow the drains to properly move water.
While we’re on the subject, other items that should go in the garbage and not in the sink include:
- Starchy foods like potatoes, rice and pasta
- Eggshells, fish skins, celery and banana peels
- Grease, oil and fats
- Anything that is not food! Never dispose of metal, wood, glass, and cigarette butts in the sink.
The rule of thumb is – when it doubt throw it out (in the trash).
When to call a professional
There are signs you need help with a clogged drain or glitchy garbage disposal; they include:
- Food particles in the sink after the dishwasher has run
- Slow draining water
- A gurgling noise coming from the drain
- Water backing up
- Odor of rotting food coming up from the sink
Better ways to dispose of coffee grounds
So, if you can’t flush your grounds, are there things you can do to make the most of this waste? Yes!
Other ways to dispose of coffee grounds include:
- Garden – They are a nice fertilizer for your garden if you have a green thumb. Plants benefit from coffee grounds. And even if you do not have a full compost, grounds will work by themselves. In addition to providing nutrients, grounds spread in your garden repel insects such as slugs and ants.
- Indoor house plants – The same goes for indoor plants!
- Exfoliate skin – You can scrub away dead cells from your skin when you mix used coffee grounds with coconut oil.
- Cleaner hair – Take a handful of grounds and massage them through your head and rinse. This will clean out built-up remains from styling products.
- Absorb food odor – An opened container of coffee grounds may also help to absorb stinky smell from a refrigerator, in the same way baking soda works.
Need help from a professional? Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.
Unwind, soak your muscles, decrease stress and relax – all in your own hot tub! Spending time in a hot tub is a great way to unwind. You can soak to soothe your mind and body, spend time and reconnect with your family, and even get some great health benefits, too. Soaking regularly may even improve your sleep. Installing a hot tub is not difficult, but you need to check your homeowners’ association rules and local zoning laws. Once you have all the requirements, just follow these steps to create your own spa setting right in your backyard.
Follow these five easy steps for installing a hot tub:
1. Find a location.
Choosing the best location to install your hot tub is the most essential step. Try to envision your new oasis in your yard. Take into consideration neighbors, traffic flow, and anything that may disrupt a peace time. Also consider these questions:
- How will you move the tub off the delivery truck to the location you selected? Will you need tools, more manpower or even a crane? Be sure to plan ahead so you don’t end up spending unnecessarily.
- Do you want your hot tub in the shade or in the afternoon sun?
- If privacy is an issue, do you need a fence or gazebo? If you are in the sun do you want to block it out with an awning?
- Are you creating a space to be a focal point or do you prefer privacy in a quiet corner of your yard?
Remember, your space will need:
- Easy access via a walkway from the house. You won’t want grass, dirt or sand in the tub.
- Flat, firm ground or surface.
- Easy access to a water source and a dedicated GCFI electrical circuit for power.
- An area that doesn’t collect leaves, limbs or excess rainwater.
- A space that is at least 10 feet away from overhead trees and power lines.
2. Select a foundation to build on
It’s not advised to install a hot tub directly on the ground. When the tub is filled with water the weight may cause the tub to shift and become uneven. If you are installing on an existing deck be sure of the weight limits and strength of the foundation. A concrete slab is a good long-term choice. If you are pouring a new slab be sure the concrete is fully dried before installing the tub. You can also use a foundation of paver stones, gravel or hot tub pad. Just make sure that the ground underneath is on hard-packed dirt and that materials are level.
3. Use upgraded, dedicated electrical outlets
Check that the electrical system you are using can safely power the unit. A lot of electricity is used when running heating components and pumps. Installing the hot tub circuit and GCFI outlet should only be done by a licensed electrician.
4. Place the tub in the desired position
Orienting your hot tub on the foundation is a crucial step. Steps or entry ladders should be placed away from obstacles. Make sure the tub is in a position that provides quick, easy access to control panels. You will also need plenty of room to easily remove the cover. If you have children, add safety measures locks on covers or alarm
5. Just add water!
Once your tub is in place, follow manufacturer instructions to begin operating. Turn off electricity that powers the tub at the circuit breaker. Check that the drain valve is closed, the filters are in place and that the tub is clean by using a non-foaming cleanser. Use the garden hose to fill the tub with cold, clean water. to the fill line. Once filled to the fill line, check for leaks. When you are certain everything is holding up properly, turn on power at the breaker. You’ll then set the controls for the unit and treat the water with chemicals. About eight hours later the water will be warm and ready to enjoy!
Don’t be afraid to call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for expert assistance.
We are all aware of the basic guidelines to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintain six feet of distance between others. Stay home as much as possible. Practice excellent hygiene like washing hands frequently. But, are there other ways the virus might spread that we don’t fully understand? Could COVID-19 spread through plumbing?
According to the Center for Disease Control, it is possible that coronaviruses can be transmitted through the sewage system, affecting tenants and plumbers. But the current science on COVID-19 shows so far that the risk of the virus transmitting through the plumbing is very low.
Nonetheless, if you’re in an apartment building or other multi-tenant dwelling and you want to take extra precautions with your plumbing, here’s a list of tips to prevent COVID-19 transmission through your pipes:
- Be sure to schedule routine plumbing inspections as they are key to finding problems that could spread the coronavirus or any other virus.
- Keep bathroom fixtures and surfaces clean. Disinfect with an antiviral non-toxic solution.
- Cover and fix any issues with the septic tank.
- If you have an overflowing toilet quickly handle it to avoid fecal contact. Eliminate any standing water immediately.
- Dry pipes may have an odor. Be aware of any foul odors coming from a drain that may signal dry pipes.
When it comes to how COVID-19 might spread through your plumbing, solid waste is the main issue you want to be aware of, not water. The odds of airborne transmission through sewage pipes is low. Poop may be a problem.
There is some science that supports the fact that coronavirus can be transmitted through contact with infected feces. While it is believed the virus can be spread in stool, many factors are still unknown. Scientists don’t know how much of the virus is shed from the body through stool and whether the virus in stool is infectious.
It is widely accepted that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted orally. Droplets spread the virus through sneezing or coughing. The poop theory is weaker, meaning there may have to be fecal-oral transmission. To mitigate this possibility wash your hands after using the bathroom. So if there were disease particles on the toilet it would have to make it to your mouth. This would not be possible if you are thoroughly washing your hands.
There have also been concerns from Americans about water transmission. At this time it is not believed to be possible to get COVID-19 from a hot tub or pool. Treated and chlorinated water eliminates disease and therefore the possibility of water being affected.
When it comes to plumbing, the bottom line – the way to keep coronavirus out of your pipes is consistent plumbing maintenance and excellent personal hygiene.
Routine plumbing inspections can be done at minimal time and cost, but people often find this a chore and overlook the importance of it. However, in pandemic conditions we should not be complacent. Just be sure your plumber wears protective gear and takes personal hygienic precautions that are in line with the CDC’s measures to stop the spread. For professional plumbing assistance, Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.
What’s the difference in soft water and hard water? Are both kinds of water safe? Do I need a water softener?
Talking about water in these terms can be confusing. The terms certainly aren’t descriptive enough to know what they mean and what to do about them! But, if you have hard water, you may be having issues that need to be addressed for the longer term condition of your home.
What causes hard water?
In route to your home, water can pick up sediments and minerals that can wreck your appliances with build up over time. If this is a problem you have, you may want to install a water softener. Having hard water is very common, only about 15% of households have soft water flowing without being treated. And having hard water is actually more expensive than using a softener.
Why get a water softener?
The reason to address hard water isn’t necessarily about your health. It’s more dangerous for your plumbing appliances than anything. Water that has a higher level of minerals and sediment in it, including calcium and magnesium, can become a problem by collecting in the pipes, drains, and on faucets. If those deposits build up they can restrict water flow or permanently damage plumbing. If limescale solidifies in your pipes, you will need replacements, which are far more expensive than just a good cleaning. In this case, the use of a water softener can control the situation much more easily and cost-effectively.
How do water softeners work?
Water softeners are systems that help each tap and faucet as part of your plumbing system. They eliminate mineral contents and also protects your pipes. Softeners have benefits like delivering better tasting, cleaner water that is also easier on your clothes and dishes. You may notice your shampoo and soap don’t lather like they should. Maybe you’ve noticed stiff fabrics and discoloration of clothing coming out of the wash. Freshly cleaned dishes are spotty and grimy. Or maybe your food doesn’t taste quite right. These are all signs that hard water are the culprit. You probably need a water softener.
Call a professional
If the sound of a water softener in your home appeals to you, call a professional. Don’t try to install one on your own. You want to make sure the installation is done correctly and without problems that can lead to damages to plumbing. A DIY water softener install can end up costing you far more, so let a professional plumber help you get softer water that will treat your pipes better. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for assistance.
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:
- 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.