Monday, March 25, 2013

Common Garbage Disposal Problems

Most people deal with a garbage disposal problem at some point and this is just one of those downsides of home ownership. Common issues include clogs or dull blades and leaks and proper maintenance is the best way the keep many of these problems from ever occurring. If you have a simple problem, you may be able to fix it yourself or contact a professional plumber to take care of it for you. With serious issues, it's usually best to replace the whole unit.

My Garbage Disposal Won't Turn On

If your disposal isn't working at all, start by making sure it's receiving power. Check your circuit breakers or fuse box and then hit the reset button on the bottom of the unit. If the button is popped out, the motor may have overloaded, which is often caused by a jam or it was left on too long. Start by clearing the jam then press the button until you hear it click. If there's no jam and you're not hearing any noise when you turn it on, you probably need to contact a professional plumber to replace the garbage disposal motor.

My Garbage Disposal is Jammed

Disposals can become clogged from high-fiber foods, glass, utensils, bone or any number of things. You'll probably find a socket hole in the bottom of the unit beneath the motor so you can insert an Allen wrench and turn the masher plate to free the jam. Always avoid putting your hands into the disposal itself. If your disposal doesn't have a socket for an Allen wrench, turn the power off at the fuse box or circuit breaker and then use a mop or plunger handle inserted at the top opening to move the masher plate around and clear the jam.

My Garbage Disposal is Leaking

It's common to find a leak somewhere in your disposal system so start by checking your drain connections. If you notice the leak coming from the drain pipe, you can usually fix the problem by replacing the gasket. Next, make sure the ring around the sink flange is tight. If the leak is coming from the body of the disposal itself, you'll probably need to contact a plumber in Norco to replace the unit.

My Garbage Disposal Isn't Working Well

If the unit just doesn't seem to be chopping up food as well as it used to, the blades probably need to be sharpened. If they're just starting to dull, sharpen them by putting ice cubes down your sink drain. Very dull blades often need to be replaced or sharpened professionally.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Plumbing Emergency Tips to Save the Day

Plumbing emergencies can happen at any time, day or night, and sometimes without any warning signs. Whether you're renting a home or own it and whether the home is new or old, you'll encounter some plumbing problem at some point. Knowing the steps to take, however, can minimize damage and save you a great deal of trouble.

Where is Your Water Shut-Off Valve?

One of the most important things you should do when you move into a home is locate the main shut-off valve. If you get city water, it's probably near your water meter or by an exerior access area in your crawlspace. If you get water from a well, it's most likely near the well pump itself. If you're facing a plumbing emergency, you'll need to shut off the water supply and then call a professional Riverside plumber to fix the problem.

Is Hot Water Leaking from a Supply Line?

If you have hot water leaking from a faucet or supply line, start by turning off the main water supply and remember that the hot water tank will drain, too. You must turn off the breaker to cut off electricity to your water heater because, once the water drains, your heating element will burn out.

Do You Have an Overflowing Toilet?

This is a very common problem and the best way to prevent an overflow is catching it as soon as possible. If you see the water level in the toilet is getting too high, quickly turn on the cold water in a nearby bathtub. This may slow the water enough. Next, shut off the water at the supply line near the floor by the toilet so the clog can be fixed.

Is Your Toilet Running?

It's not uncommon for your flush mechanism to suddenly fail and cause the water to keep running or make the toilet flush on its own later. Fix this problem by turning off your water supply valve near the toilet and adjusting or replacing the flush mechanism. If you aren't sure what to do, call a professional plumber.

Are Your Pipes Frozen?

Finally, frozen pipes are one of the biggest reasons for panic among homeowners as they leave you without water and you face potential damage if the pipe bursts. Carefully use a space heater or even a hair dryer to thaw the pipes but don't leave a heater unattended. You should only leave the heater near the pipes for 10-15 minutes at a time and leave the nearby faucets open so the water can escape as it thaws.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tips for Maintaining Your Plumbing System

As a homeowner, home maintenance can often seem overwhelming and it seems like something is always breaking. While you have many responsibilities to keep your home running smoothly, plumbing is one of those things you need to maintain all year long. Did you know your plumbing system represents 15% of the value of your home? There is nothing in your home more valuable and used more often. The easiest way to do keep your plumbing system running smoothly is with a checklist that includes all of the appliances and pipes on the system, including laundry facilities, drains and toilets.

Signs of Leaks

First, check for signs of leaks in your exposed pipes, including where they run into your walls and fonudation. Signs of a water leak include watermarks on your walls and unexplainable puddles on the floors.

Signs of Corrosion

Corrosion can cause serious leaks if it isn't taken care of. Look for green stains on brass or copper pipes or fixtures and yellowish stains on steel pipes.

Test Your Water Pressure

This measures with how much force water comes out of the faucets in your home. Low water pressure may be due to sidement build-up or a sign of issues in your water line. High water pressure exceeding 80 psi can also be a serious problem that causes constant leaks. If your water pressure isn't ideal, contact a professional plumber in Riverside to install a regulator and inspect your plumbing.

Remove Showerheads

Check for an built-up sediment that may be causing low water pressure.

Check Drainage

Check the drainage speed in your sinks, showers and tubs. Slow drainage typically indicates a clog or a blocked vent pipe. There should be a full swirl during drainage . If there are gurgling sounds or bubbles, there's probably a problem.

Check the Toilet

Inspect the flushing handle and parts of your toilet and make sure each flushes properly. Look at the parks in the tank and check for rusted, broken or missing parts. Ensure the water doesn't keep running after flushing and there isn't any water on the floor.

Check for Cracked Tiles

Are there any cracked tiles in your shower, around the sinks or near any water pipes? Loose tiles is often an indication that something is rotting under or behind the tiles.

Check Your Water Heater

Check the burner chamber of your water heater and look for rust in the chamber. Check the flame, which should be completely blue. If the flame has any yellow, the jets may need cleaning. Drain your water heater to remove built-up sediment.

Check Washing Machine

Check the hoses of your washing machine to make sure they aren't brittle or leaking. Leaking washing machines are actually one of the most common homeowners insurance claims.

Check the Caulking

Finally, check the caulking on your tubs, sinks and toilets to make sure it isn't loosening. Look for signs of mildew, which indicates standing water was present and dried.

If you notice any problems during your inspection, make sure you contact the experts at Inland Empire Plumbing to get to the bottom of the problem and get it fixed promptly.

Image: Heypaul at Flickr

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pex Piping vs Copper Piping: Which is the best?

PEX piping has been used for years in radiant heating systems but this flexible tubing is now becoming a very popular choice for residential water supply lines because it's easy to work with, it's made from a superior material and there are fewer joints, which leads to a reduced risk of problems down the road. So, what is PEX piping really and is it truly a better option than copper? This is a question you'll want to ask yourself if you're considering repiping service from a professional plumber in Fontana or anywhere else.

What is PEX Piping?

PEX piping is cross-linked polyethylene pipe. It's able to withstand extreme tempetures without cracking as well as creep deformation from long-term stress. It also holds up very well to chemicals that may be in your water supply. PEX is a great choice for both hot and cold water lines, especially because it's so flexible and easy to install.

PEX has become one of the most popular plumbing materials among professionals because it's easy to install, flexible, has fewer joints to leak and it won't crack in the cold weather. Rather than using solder or glue, it's asembled with a barbed fitting and crimping ring which offers a watertight seal

PEX Piping vs Copper Piping

Copper piping has been used for decades and it was originally thought that it would last as long as the structure did, although we now know this isn't true. Copper is fairly flexible and durable and it's much easier to install than the old iron pipes. It also resists bacterial growth, corrosion and damage from UV rays so it can be used outside. PEX piping, on the other hand, is sensitive to UV rays.

While it's resistant to corrosion, copper pipes will eventually corrode from water with a pH that's too basic or too acidic. Copper has also become very expensive and copper pipes will freeze and break during the winter if you live in an area with extreme colds. Along with the high price of copper comes a more expensive repiping job as each joint of the copper pipes must be soldered.

While copper and PEX both have their advantages, many homeowners appreciate the benefits that a new PEX system can offer, especially those living in cold environments who are tired of dealing with leaking pipes every spring. To learn more about repiping and the advantages of PEX piping, contact the professionals at Inland Empire Plumbing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Signs It's Time to Replace Your Water Heater

It can be a little tough to figure out exactly when it's time to replace your water heater. After all, you want it to last as long as possible but you certainly don't want to deal with the aftermath of a water heater that's rusted through and poured water into your beautiful home.

In some cases, the first sign of trouble is a water heater that simply isn't producing anymore hot water, although there are some other subtle signs to watch for. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're thinking about water heater installation from an experienced Norco plumber.

Is Your Water Heater Getting Old?

Most water heaters only last 8-12 years, although the technology has advanced a great deal in the past couple of decades and modern units last longer than older ones. Keep in mind most water heaters only have a warranty of about 5 years so once the appliance starts to get up there in years, watch it carefully. If it's older than 10 years, consider replacing it with something more energy efficient -- and reliable. New models even have life spans of up to 20 years.

How Long Does Your Hot Water Last?

If you find your hot water isn't lasting as long as it used to, and some members of the household are waiting longer than usual for the water to reheat for a shower, this is a sign that it's time to get a new water heater installed by a professional plumber.

Are There Any Problems with the Seals or Joints?

Check any seals or joints going into or out of the water heater and check for moisture, pipe corrosion or other issues. Check the tank and fittings for leaks as well and make sure there aren't any puddles forming around or under your water heater. Your water heater should never have water on the floor! If it does, there's probably a hidden leak or crack that could be big trouble if you ignore it.

Do You Hear Odd Noises?

If you hear banging or popping coming from the water heater, there might be a mechanical problem. Try to figure out if you hear the noises at a certain time, such as when the tank is refilling, and contact a plumber to determine if it's best to have it repaired or replaced.

Do You Have Rusty Water?

Over time, rust and minerals will collect on the bottom of your tank and begin to affect water quality, especially if you have hard water. If you notice rusty water coming out of your tap, it's time to contact a plumber for an inspection and water heater installation.

Still not sure if it's time to replace your water heater? Contact the experienced plumbers at Inland Empire Plumbing and we'll get to the bottom of the problem. We'll let you know if it's better to repair the unit or if it's just a better idea to install a brand new one. Either way, we'll have you back in hot water in no time!

Image: Ken Mayer