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.

 

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.

DIY Project Safety and Kids

Family DIY ProjectA growing family and tight budget can make DIY home improvements necessary, but there are extra safety precautions that have to be considered when renovating with children in the home.  Basic comfort and convenience aside, keeping dangerous tools, materials, and chemicals away from children requires extra planning and care.

Here are some tips to keep children safe during DIY home projects:

  • As a general rule, any time you are considering doing home improvements (with or without children in the home), compare your estimated cost in materials/time to what a professional would charge.
  • Break large scale projects into phases. Make sure that you identify specific areas of the house for your family that won’t be impacted, and don’t allow any project materials or tools in those areas. Make sure the “work-free” areas can function between phases of the project.
  • Don’t try to multi-task. Even small repairs require full attention and if you’re responsible for supervising a child at the same time, you could be putting everyone at risk. Work with family or other caregivers to designate work times when small children can be supervised.
  • Ask for help. Make sure you truly understand the scope of the project and how long it will take to complete. For example, one person painting a room that requires priming and two coats of paint could take two days or more. It’s possible that three people could do it in less than 24 hours.
  • Any DIY project that requires breaching the security of exterior doors or windows, cutting off access to water or electricity, or moving furniture should be carefully considered. In some cases, it’s best to have children stay with a family member if security or physical safety is an issue.
  • Determine a lockable space to secure tools and equipment when you take breaks or between project phases.
  • Be aware of fumes and dust travelling through air vents. If you can, isolate your work space with a door or hang heavy duty plastic in the doorway. As a precaution, cover air intake vents and open windows exterior doors.

Before starting major DIY projects, it’s best to consult an expert.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800-461-3010 to ensure your safety before starting a project, especially one involving electrical or plumbing systems.

How to Avoid Water Damage

Repairs and maintenance are a normal part of home ownership. If the thought of leaks, floods, and overflows scare you, you aren’t alone. Water damage can be highly destructive to your home and cost you significantly. Let’s look at the most common culprits of water damage, and what you can do to prevent it.

An Overflowing Toilet

That one phrase makes most people uneasy! Most homeowners have encountered some kind of overflow from their toilet. Depending on how much damage the overflow causes, you could be looking at a cost of up to $5,000 to repair the water damage. So what can you do to prevent an overflowing toilet? Your best bet is routine maintenance! Have a professional regularly check the flush valve, toilet fill and water supply to ensure that everything is running properly.

Washing Machine Problems

Washing machine water damage is commonly caused by an exploding hose. This is an easy way to flood your whole laundry room. Follow this simple tip to prevent your machine hose from exploding and causing a flood: don’t overstuff your washer with clothes. It may be extra work to do two separate loads of laundry, but it will save you a headache and money down the road.

Plumbing System Failure

Water pipes run throughout your entire home – including the walls, floors and ceilings. Depending on how old you pipes are and the condition they are in, they could burst and cause significant damage. An annual inspection by a professional is the best way to prevent pipes from bursting, because a professional will be able to catch any problems before they turn serious.

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 provide routine maintenance on the water appliances and pipes in your home. While we’re out there, we can also check for any money wasting leaks! Our services also include maintaining and/or fixing water heaters, drain pipes, exposed hot and cold water lines and ventilation systems!

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

How to Fix a Running Toilet

How to Fix a Running Toilet

One thing everyone can agree on is that they don’t like to waste money. A running toilet is one of the ways that you could be spending unnecessary money. You can often tell if your toilet is running because it makes that annoying running sound. toilet

However, your water bill may be high even when there is no running sound. If this is the case, you may have to dig deeper to find the problem and fix it. We’ll walk you through the ways that you can fix a running toilet so that you don’t end up paying for water that you don’t even use.

Steps to Fix a Running Toilet:

  1. Turn off the water in the bathroom so that there is no continued flow of water that’s wasted.
  2. Take the cover off the top of the toilet. Look inside and find the small opening that opens and closes to let water in and out, which is referred to as the flapper.
  3. See if the flapper is stuck open. This is typically the cause of running water because the open flapper requires constant water to fill it. Shut the flapper if you see that it’s open. Sometimes it can get caught on the chain, in which case you’ll need to straighten out the chain to close the flapper.
  4. If the flapper is worn out and doesn’t close easily, it will need to be replaced.  These can be purchased at your local hardware store and not hard to do yourself.

An Alternative Method to Try If Necessary: 

  1. An alternative way to test if your toilet is running is to add food dye to the water that is in the bank tank with the flapper.
  2. Wait for 20 minutes and make sure you don’t flush the toilet during this time frame. If the dye water has escaped and the water is starting to clear up, this means there is some opening in the flapper. None of the dye water should be escaping so again, it means the flapper should be replaced.

Preventative Methods to Try

There are also preventative measures to take so you don’t experience other plumbing problems that we have discussed prior. Try not to flush anything besides toilet paper down the toilet. You may also want to consider putting drain covers in your bathtubs and showers to prevent clogs from hair. If there is a build-up in any of your drains, buy a snake that will work the most effectively to clear out any blockage in your drains.

Sometimes the running toilet can’t be fixed by simply closing the flapper. This may be a problem related to the water line. It’s also possible that your running toilet can be caused by the valve and float, which is the pipe that regulates the water level. If the running toilet is not fixed by closing the flapper, give Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical a call! We can come and check the water line and valve and float to detect and fix the problem! We can also check your drain pipes and the exposed hot and cold water lines and ventilation systems while we’re there.

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

 

Have you been Flushing these down your Toilet?

Have you been Flushing these down your Toilet?

Have you considered the items that you flush down your toilet? There are many things like sanitary products that most people know not to flush. There are other products like baby wipes that may seem safe to flush, but could pose a problem to your plumbing system. Today, baby wipes are sold almost everywhere in tubs to small packs designed to slip in your purse. Although they are marketed as “flushable” wipes, this label can be misleading. We’ll go over a few of the reasons why flushing wipes can be dangerous for either your septic system or your pipes.  Image result for toilets

  • The baby wipes are made of disposable cloths that are non-woven. They are comprised of synthetic and natural materials to make the wipes both strong yet also thin. The baby wipes include the same material that is used in dryer sheets and diapers – both of which you would not flush down the toilet.
  • The label on baby wipes that claims they are flushable is referring to the fact that they will fit down your pipes. Multiple wipes flushed down the toilet can still clog the pipes, however. “Disposable” is also a term that indicates they can be thrown away in the trash, not necessarily in the toilet.
  • Toilet paper is designed with material that is biodegradable, unlike baby wipes. The material used in baby wipes is the same material found in plastic bags and plastic bottles, which either takes a long time to denigrate or is not biodegradable at all.
  • The size of a household drain pipe is typically 4 inches thick. When wipes are flushed down the toilet, sometimes they can get stuck to the side of the pipes. When these wipes accumulate in the pipes and stick to the side, they can trap other waste materials that flow through the pipes which can end up clogging the pipes. Your pipes are not the only things that could potentially get clogged. Sometimes these wipes can also cause a clog in your entire septic system. If this happens, the problem will cost a lot to repair.

All these potential problems can be prevented by throwing away wipes in the trash can instead of the toilet. If there is a problem with your plumbing system and your pipes are clogged, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical! We will come out and solve any problems in your pipes or your septic system. While we’re out there, we can also check your drain pipes, and we’ll also check your exposed hot and cold water lines and ventilation systems while we’re there!

 

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

 

Fix Your Running Toilet

 

If you have a toilet that keeps running, this can waste quite a bit of water and money. Let’s take a look at how to troubleshoot this.

Problems with the flapper are the most common reason for a running toilet. Turn off the water and drain the toilet, then look at the flapper. Adjust the chain if it is too long or short. A chain that is too long can get caught under the flapper, while a chain that is too short can pull up on the valve when it should not. You can use wire cutters if it is too long.

You’ll also want to look for any problems with the actual flapper, or see if it needs to be cleaned to help it seal better. You can soak it in a bowl of vinegar for about half an hour and then scrub it.

If the flapper is not the issue, check the water level. If it is too high, water will constantly be draining into the overflow tube in the middle of the tank that connects the tank and bowl. Look at it with the water running and the tank full, and see if water keeps draining into the tube. If so, you can adjust the water level by lowering the float.

Lastly, if those are not the issues, check the fill valve. Turn off the water, flush the toilet, disconnect the supply line, and purchase a replacement for the old assembly. You’ll have to replace it entirely.

One of the best ways to prevent common toilet issues in the future such as a running toilet is to replace the insides of your toilet’s tank every 5 years. Think of it as regular maintenance, just as you would maintain other appliances in your home.

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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!