Tag Archives: DIY

Plumbers Insights – Our Christmas Gift to You

When you call a plumber it will cost you over $100 just to get us in the door. That’s an expense you don’t want to have to deal with in the weeks leading up to Christmas. So what we’ve decided to do is give you a few insights from our experienced staff that will allow you to navigate your plumbing service this season. These tips and tricks range from DIY standbys for those of you who have a bit of technical skill and are willing to get a little dirty in the process to ways to limit water damage when you have a broken faucet or leaking toilet. Most plumbers won’t tell you this kind of stuff because they make a pretty penny on an easy fix, but in the spirit of the season, we’ve become quite a giving bunch!

  1. If you can wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to get service, schedule ahead. We get the most calls on Mondays when wives are calling us to fix what their husbands “fixed” over the weekend.
  2. Don’t know a reputable plumber in the area? Call us. Or, if you want to get an unbiased opinion, call a local plumbing supply company for a recommendation. They won’t usually work with unlicensed or below average plumbers.
  3. Don’t put a brick or half gallon of water in your toilet reservoir. Your toilet was designed to flush with a specific amount of water. Changing it could keep your business from going down the drain (not something you want to deal with if you have guests over the holidays). Instead, if you want to save money, invest in a low flow toilet. They aren’t excessively expensive and can pay for themselves in water savings in just a few years.
  4. If you do have a clog, avoid using over the counter liquid drain cleaners. They are caustic and not only can be harmful to you, but to your pipes too. Use a plunger, or better yet, purchase a hand auger (drain snake). The snake will come in handy and pay for itself on its first use.
  5. Clogs are the bane of most bathrooms. If you happen to have a long locked beauty in your home, invest in a drain cover to catch all of the excess hair that comes out during a shower. Not doing so can lead to slow running drains and even full clogs (another good use for that drain snake).
  6. Replace the rubber hoses on the back of your washing machine with stainless steel reinforced ones. The flimsy ones will break over time and are one of the top insurance claims from homeowners. Even a small leak can cause a problem because the washing machine is almost always in a low traffic area. The drip can go on for quite a while before being caught. We suggest (if you still have the flimsy rubber hoses) that you check the hoses every time you do the laundry.
  7. Don’t let drippy faucets and leaking toilets go. Get them fixed right away. A single dripping faucet can waste up to 8 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet up to 200! If you don’t want to pay for the fix, you’ll be paying for it when your next water bill comes. And the bill after that and the bill after that. You get the picture.
  8. Do you find yourself jiggling the handle of your toilet to get it to work properly? If so, you probably need a new drain flap – they cost about $5. They are quite easy to install and will stop your need to jiggle without having to shell out a Benjamin just to get a professional plumber in the door.
  9. When you purchased your garbage disposal it came with an Allen wrench. This is a manual way to advance the interior grinding mechanism when the disposal gets jammed. Keep it under the sink (taped to the unit is best) so it is there when you need to clear a jam.
  10. Get multiple estimates for any large plumbing job that you need to have completed. The estimates should be within 25% of each other. Any that are excessively high or low may indicate either an overpriced company or a company that is going to try to nickel and dime you with hourly charges.
  11. Asking for quotes is good, but asking for references is better. Get them from customers that have used the service in the past 3 months. Also realize that plumbers can change their names or company name at any time they wish. So look for a well established company that has a good track record to be on the safe side. Again, if you don’t have any personal references to go from, contact a plumbing supply company to get their recommendation.
  12. Always work with a plumber that warranties his work for at least a year on all major installations and repairs. A plumber that doesn’t stand behind his work is a plumber I don’t want messing with my pipes.
  13. Don’t be afraid to ask us to check your water pressure or those pesky banging signs in the supply lines under your sink. Just do it after we’ve completed the work we have been contracted to do. Plumbers never turn down the potential for new work.
  14. Do you have a wire hanger handy? If you do you can easily fashion a hook that can be snaked down your bathtub drain to remove hair and soap scum clogs. Remember, about two inches down almost all bathtubs have a 90 degree drain turn. This is where the clog is likely to strike.
  15. Learn where your shut off valves are. This is an invaluable piece of information. When a leak starts you can literally have minutes until you are dealing with an interior flooding situation. Locate both the main shut off for your home and the interior shut offs (usually under the sinks and behind the toilets). Know where they are can literally save you thousands of dollars in damages.
  16. If you have some food coloring handy, you can check you toilet for leaks with a dye test. Simply drop a few drops of food coloring (we prefer green) into the reservoir and let the toilet it for half an hour. Check the bowl. If you see colored water you have a leak. The darker the color, the worse the leak. Replacing the flapper valve is usually the solution.
  17. Don’t buy a brand new low flow faucet to reduce your water usage. There are aerators that will thread on to your existing faucets for about 1/10th of the cost and will do the exact same thing.

 

Hopefully at least a few of our insights will help you save some cash or trouble. If you happen to have other questions or concerns about the plumbing in your house, send them in to our professionals. We will be starting a monthly readers question and answers section to our blog. And again, a happy holiday to yours from every one of us at My Plumber Ca!

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4 Life Hacks for Your Bathroom!

We’ve been in thousands of San Diego bathrooms, and seen the best (and the worst) of human ingenuity. Today we’re going to focus on those eureka moments where we saw something so unique, so smart, so simple, that it only made sense that everyone should be doing it. These are our top 4 life hacks for your bathroom. We’re sure you’ll share them with your friends – don’t worry, we won’t tell.

Emergency Toilet Paper Roll Storage

We’ve all been there – rushed to the bathroom narrowly escaping a major catastrophe only to find an only slightly catastrophic situation – no toilet paper. Sure, at that moment you want to strangle the last person who used it and left the empty roll there. After all, how hard is it to replace the roll? Really? But lashing out doesn’t help, because you’re stuck on the pot with no paper in reach.

The solution – keep an emergency roll of toilet paper nearby, but don’ make it so accessible that everyone will use it instead of loading up a new roll. So, forget about the additional roll holder (you’ll just be 4 times as mad when there are four empty rolls instead of 1) and go for something unconventional. As plumbers, we suggest placing a roll of two on your plunger handle since it is probably crammed in a corner right next to your toilet. If you don’t want the bottom role to touch the rubber, cut a small hole in a plastic bag and slip it over the handle first. You can tie the bag at the top to prevent dust from gathering on your TP. If you need the plunger, slip the bag containing your extra toilet paper off and set it to the side.

Too see how genius this really is, check out a patent of this concept right here.

No need for this type of advertisement – that roll will be gone in a day!

Organize with Spice Racks

a spice rack used to organize bathroom supplies

sleek – elegant – minimal

If you’re sink looks like a personal grooming catch-all, with lipstick leaning on a tube of toothpaste surrounded by floss, a toenail trimming kit and a misplaced Q-tip, you could use a bit of organizational help. One of the cleanest, minimalist solutions we’ve seen is the use of spice racks. Yes, spice racks. Mounted to the wall, they give the perfect amount of space to store everything from toothpaste tubes to detangling sprays.

 

Ditch the Towel Bar

Do you run into a problem with space on your towel bar? As a member of a family of 5, I do all the time. My wife actually figured this one out before I saw it in another house, so I have to give her credit. Instead of that standard two foot bar, we installed 5 coat hooks. They can hold a towel and washcloth for every member of the family, no overlapping necessary. Here’s a really classy looking version from an upscale boutique store. You can get your own hooks from Lowes or the Home Depot for $10 bucks or so.

 

Get a Second Shower Rod

organize your shower with some baskets hanging from a second shower curtain rod

So simple we should have thought of it

I don’t know about you, but I’ve dropped a full bottle of shampoo on my toes more than once. Nothing ruins the calm, refreshment of a shower like that throbbing pain. Of course, for every time it hit my foot, the shampoo bottle or one of the myriad of other things that get stacked on the shelves fell in at least a hundred times. I’d never had any luck with the suction shelves anyhow. Then I saw a brilliant idea in a starter home in Santee. The husband said his wife wanted him to buy an extra shower rod for the main bathroom. He couldn’t understand why, but he did. She proceeded to put it up on the backside of the shower and hung see-through baskets from it to hold shampoo, razors, bars of soap, scrub brushes and anything else they needed. Totally brilliant.

 

Do you have any life hacks that our readers in the San Diego area might want to know about? Share them with us. We’re always looking for ways to make life just a little bit easier.

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How To Repair a Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen sink is a very helpful piece of equipment to have. But if the pipes become clogged or get a hole in them a lot can go wrong. Water can leak out and wet the floor which can cause you or someone else to slip and get hurt. Moisture causes black mold, which is also a severe problem if not caught early. Also, if you don’t have a dishwasher, a clogged sink or leaking sink pipe can keep you from washing dishes or using your sink for anything else.

Leaks are more difficult problems than clogs, and you will probably not want to tackle them yourself as the tools are somewhat specialized. If part of the plumbing under your sink leaks, it may be an isolated incident, like a leaky seal. But if it’s coming from the pipe itself, the leak is likely caused by corrosion, which means it’s likely more cost-effective in the long run to replace all those pipes with PVC piping than it is to fix another leak every six months. Your plumber will take a look and give you a rundown of possible solutions.

But in case you are interested, here is a general plan for how the plumber will tackle your kitchen sink repair job:

  • First he will place a bucket beneath the kitchen sink’s drain assembly. This is to catch the waste water from the p-trap. Then he will loosen the nut holding the p-trap with a pipe wrench.

  • When the water has almost completely stopped draining from the p-trap he will remove the p-trap from the drain assembly and throw it away.

  • Then he will loosen and remove the nut that connects the sink strainer to the sink basin, the extension pipe and the nut that connects the wall drain pipe to the wall drain extension pipe and discard all the old pipes.

  • Next he will need to use PVC adapters to merge the old metal piping to the new PVC piping he will be putting in. PVC piping is glued together, not soldered, so there will be no open flames.

  • Then he will use an array of PVC parts, just like the metal ones he removed, to replace all the traps and extension pipes.

  • Once everything is put back together, he will test and make sure there are no longer any leaks. If there are no leaks then he is done.

So if your kitchen sink is leaking, give us a call immediately and we’ll be there. You can also visit our sink repair & installation page to learn more. If your leaking sink manages to cause damage to your floor, you may also need help from a water damage restoration company in San Diego

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Unclogging A Tub Drain

Unclogging a Tub Drain

Few household problems are as annoying and occur as regularly as a clogged tub drain. The problem is generally caused by a combination of hair and soap, which combine to make a hairball of nightmarish proportions.

Not only do tub drains deal see a lot more hair than your average sink drain, the pipes are fair more difficult to get to. Unlike sinks, which are easily accessible to all, your tub drain might not even have an access hatch (although it really should.)

Unclogging A Tub Drain

So the best way to deal with a clogged drain is to prevent it from happening at all. If you have an old-fashioned rubber plug drain, you can get a little strainer for it. The next thing to do is to notice when the drain becomes sluggish. That’s the precursor to a closer, so get that little hairball monster while it’s small.

The procedure for cleaning out the drain is the same when it’s clogged as when it’s sluggish.
First, attempt to clean it out with your fingers. Hair doesn’t tend to get very far down the drain before it stops moving, and you might be able to reach it with a screwdriver.
After that, try good, old-fashioned Drano. Can’t hurt, might help.
If that doesn’t clear out the clog, try Nair (the hair removal cream). Squirt a whole bottle down the drain and let it sit 20 minutes.

If none of that works, the next step is to call your trusty plumber service, My Plumber. Don’t mess with an auger or snake if you have a pop-up or lever plug in your tub. There’s too many components and it’s too easy to damage. Let us do the job for you. With over 30 years experience, you can trust us to get the job done right.

Toilet Won’t Stop Running?

Every plumbing service soon gets to know the pet peeves of their customers. Along with slow-moving drains, low pressure and a high water bill, a toilet that won’t stop running is a thorn in peoples’ sides.

Troubleshooting a toilet that won’t stop running:

1      Jiggle the handle. If that solves the problem, the issue is likely that the chain is wrapped around the flush handle arm. You can fix this by taking the cover off the toilet tank and straightening out the chain. You may want to cut the chain with wirecutters if there’s more than an inch in excess chain. That should help prevent the problem in the future.

2      If jiggling the handle doesn’t work, the next step is to see if the tank is leaking. There are toilet dye tablets, but you can use food coloring if you like (not red, it can stain your tank. Blue is your best bet.) Drop the dye into the tank and wait a few minutes. If there’s coloring in your toilet bowl, you have a leaky flapper. Turn off the water, flush the tank, remove the flapper (it’s usually a simple snap-on fitting) and head down to your local home supply store for an exact match.

3      Not the flapper? Check the float. Does it stick? Mineral buildup can sometimes cause the float to stick. If this is the case, it will have to be switched out.

Those three steps will account for 90% of toilet problems. If it’s still running (or you just don’t feel like messing with it yourself) give My Plumber San Diego a call at 877-697-5862

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips

A household sump pump is one of those appliances we keep around “just in case”. That’s good– it means we’re thinking ahead to possible problems. But in the hustle and bustle of day to day life it’s important to maintain these ‘just in case’ items so they’ll work when we really do need them.

In the case of sump pumps, depending on your location, they may pump periodically without you being aware, such as early spring when the ground is thawing. Because of this, you should not assume that nothing has changed since the last set of heavy rainstorms caused you to check your sump to make sure it was working properly. You should check it every season, just in case.

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips

Here are some things to check:

  • Check that the power cord is securely plugged in and that the GCFI switch is operational
  • If you have a back-up battery, check that it is connected, fully charged and operational.
  • Check the inlet screen for debris or gravel
  • Pour a pail of water in the sump hole to trigger the float switch and test the battery backup.

Make sure you know whether your unit requires regular greasing or other servicing. If you don’t have the manual, look up the make and model online and check.

Maintaining your sump pump takes only a few minutes a year, and is cheap insurance. If you aren’t very handy, or don’t want to be messing around in your basement, feel free to give your favorite plumbing service a call, and we’ll be right out to maintain your sump pump. Far better to be safe than sorry.

For any issue involving sump pumps or plumbing in San Diego, call My Plumber at (619) 447-5556

Preventative Maintenance for Sewer and Drains

If you have a clogged drain and require a plumber’s service, My Plumber Heating & Cooling can help and here is some quick advice on preventative maintenance, and a few ways to relieve minor clogs.

The easiest way to avoid causing permanent sewer and drain damage is to be careful what you put down them. Pasta, rice, bits of potatoes, and grease from meat can really stop-up a kitchen sink. Cleaning greasy pots and pans with paper towels or scraping them out carefully into a compost bin, before washing them in the sink, is highly recommended. The combination of baking soda and vinegar, followed by a pot of boiling water, can be an easy way to regularly maintain free-flowing drains.

Another recommendation for a kitchen sink that is having trouble draining because of grease can be treated with a hair dryer or a heating pad.  Wrap the pad around the drain trap (or hold the hair dryer in place, if you’re patient) to heat the metal and melt the grease. Follow this up by flushing the sink with hot running water.

Hair is almost always the reason for slow moving bathroom sinks and shower drains. Drain screens are an inexpensive way to make sure that these kinds of small solids stay out of the drains to begin with. If your drain is clogged and you don’t have any Drano, but you do have a bottle of Nair, try squirting it down the drain.  Let it sit for ten minutes then turn on the hot water.

If drain clogs are in the trap, a plunger may be the simple answer. Fill the sink with a few inches of water and put a wet rag in the overflow opening to create a seal, this will keep the drain air-free and make the plunging more effective. (Consider having one plunger for toilets and another for sinks.)

Hopefully these quick tips help keep your drains from any serious damage.  Should you still have issues after trying these recommendations, don’t hesitate to call My Plumber Heating & Cooling– Same Day Service Guaranteed*! 1-877-697-5862

 

Keep Sewer and Drains Clear to Prevent Potential Flooding

With Hurricane Sandy hitting the east coast this week, we wanted to remind everyone in the San Diego area to keep their sewer and drains clear to prevent potential flooding.

As we know, Southern California often gets periods of heavy rain and My Plumber San Diego receives numerous calls in regards to flooded homes, businesses and sump pumps not working. Based on our 30 years of experience and best plumber service we wanted to remind you of several reasons why basements and first floors flood.  Water can enter into your home or office via: leaks or cracks in walls, clogged main drains, foundation drain failure, leaking or clogged downspouts, sump pump failure, a sewer system clog or back-up, or poor lot drainage. Most of these occur as a result of heavy or persistent rainfall.

Besides the time and expense associated with a large clean-up bill, there are other negative consequences associated with flooding:

  • Consistent flooding resulting in long-term damage to your home or office may not be covered by insurance.
  • Mold and mildew growth may occur resulting in serious health problems.
  • Homeowner insurance rates or deductibles may rise to compensate for repeated flooding claims.

We hope your home or office never has s flood, but if it does, give My Plumber Heating and Cooling of San Diego a call. We are sewer and drain experts you can trust to find and fix your flooding problem. We will inspect your drainage systems and make recommendations to guide rainwater off the roof and away from your building.

Best of all, we can repair your sewer and main lines without tearing up your property. Our honest and highly-trained plumber service technicians will come to your home or business and consult with you on the best possible solution. We offer pluming service in San Diego, Oceanside, El Cajon, Chula Vista, and surrounding areas. Our work is 100% guaranteed so give us a call at1 (619) 447-5556 TODAY!

Identifying Common Plumbing Problems

In the way that flat tires and oil changes are a fact of life of vehicle ownership, plumbing problems are a side effect of having running water. The fact that major problems can be so damaging, expensive and time-consuming to fix leads people to either panic and call a plumber for every little thing or to stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. A little education can go a long way towards restoring peace of mind.

Here are a few common problems you may encounter:

Low Water Pressure in a Shower Or Sink

Low water pressure is probably the single most common plumbing complaint. When it only affects a single fixture like a sink, it can be a relatively simple fix, like a corroded aerator. If it’s a whole house problem (and your water supplier has good pressure otherwise) then the issue can be more complex, like corroded pipes restricting flow.

Loud or Banging Pipes

This is caused by “air hammering”– air bubbles getting in the line with a microscopic leak. This should not be ignored. Small leaks turn into big leaks and replacing moldy drywall is never fun. Soft ticking or tapping noises are more benign, usually caused by the temperature differential between the water and the pipe. Sometimes this will even cause the pipe to vibrate, and it you see this happening you can wrap it up or clamp it down to prevent it.

High Water Bill

If your water bill suddenly spikes (and it’s not due to your teenager taking too long in the shower) you may have a slab leak– a leak in the supply line to your house. If you catch it at this stage, be happy that you haven’t yet noticed any of the secondary side effects of a slab leak: wet or ruined flooring, shifting or cracking foundation, or mold in the walls. You can also have a leak in the septic lines, although normally the smell will be the first indicator.

This is definitely something to call a plumber in on, because the damage a slab leak can cause is enormous, and it’s rarely covered by insurance. If you’re not certain whether your water bill spike is cause for concern, call and ask. A reputable plumber is there to help you.

If you’re looking for plumber service in the San Diego area, look no further than My Plumber. Call us today at 1 (619) 447-5556 or email us here.

Preparing a Bathroom for an Elder

 

We often think that our lives differ somehow from the “Good Ole Days” when multiple generations of a family lived together in one home, sometimes several generations together under one roof.But in the current economic climate with children leaving the nest later and the elderly needing care that families simply can’t afford to hire, multiple generational families are becoming common.

Post-war baby boomers are aging and their safety and health are being overseen by the next generation.Taking on the care of an aging parent can be intimidating since we are trained from birth to depend on our parents for our own safety and health. Ratcheting up the safety factor in the bathroom can be an easy way to introduce ourselves to the idea of “caring for” our elders.

Take a fresh look at the bathroom that older family member uses with an eye for basic safety.Is there a bathmat with a rubberized, non-skid undercoating? Are there appliqus or some other form of anti-skid prevention in the bottom of the shower or bath?

And when was the last time you thought about the water temperature out of your hot water faucet?Our senior family members may be moving a little slower these days and can’t react as quickly to a sudden burst of hot water; their skin has become more fragile and subject to injury.It does not heal as well as it did in their younger years.These factors combined with very hot water can lead to a tragedy.

It is federal law that manufactures must set the thermostat to heat the water to 120 degrees on all water heaters before they released for sale. The installer is also equally compelled to leave that setting where he found it.For anyone else (usually the homeowner) the thermostat setting is a matter of personal choice. If they choose to set the water temperature to 140 degreaser even 160 degrees it is their right to do so.In many homes circumstances have at times dictated those higher water settings, but in a home with an elderly resident safety over-rides any other consideration. Check the water heaters thermostat setting.

Many seniors hold a silent fear of bath-time, they are unlikely to talk about it, may not even be consciously aware that that is what they are feeling.They just know they dread bathing. The consequences of that fear can be difficult to live with.

There are devices that have been created to make bath-time easier on everyone involved.They are almost innumerable and finding the ones that are most helpful to your particular situation can be over-whelming.Next week we will begin discussing these helpful aids and hopefully, we can remove some of the intimidation factor.