Tag Archives: preventative maintenance

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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Maintenance Plans Save Money

A maintenance plan helps ensure that your heating and cooling systems operate at peak performance when you most need them and is a great investment to have. A maintenance plan can save you money and help your HVAC system live longer and perform more efficiently. With a maintenance plan, you can save yourself from costly repairs later on. Without a maintenance plan, a unit that is not well maintained can malfunction, and the repairs can be expensive. You may even have to replace your unit, which is very costly.

Ways a Maintenance Plan Saves You Money

A maintenance plan helps your system run more efficiently by getting it the required maintenance it needs in order to run properly. Having regular maintenance on your system helps keep your system clean and makes sure any little problems that may be wrong are taken care of before they turn into bigger, more costly problems. With a clean, more energy efficient system, you will have peace of mind knowing that the more expensive repairs won’t be needed for your system.

A well-maintained system will also last longer, which means you won’t have to worry about replacing your unit anytime soon. Not having to replace your unit will save a lot of money. Having a maintenance plan can help increase the lifespan of your system.

Seasonal weather can put a lot of stress on your system, but with a maintenance plan, you and your system will both feel less stress. A clean, well-maintained unit uses less energy to cool or heat your home, which means less wear and tear on your unit. With your unit having to use less energy, it will help keep it from having any major problems. If your system is not well-maintained, it can use more energy than what is needed to cool or heat your home.

Don’t let your system cost you unnecessary money and leave you in the heat of summer or cold of winter. If you do not want to have to pay for costly repairs or a new unit later on, call My Plumber today at 866-779-7204 and talk to one of their trained professionals about a maintenance plan for your system. The trained professionals at My Plumber will be able to help you get a maintenance plan in place as well as perform the needed maintenance your system currently requires.

To learn more about what we offer, visit our air conditioning & heating pages.

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Sump Pump With Battery Backup is a Must Have

Most homes, especially those with a basement have a sump pump; which is great at removing water away from your foundation.  But what happens if the power goes out, like it tends to during heavy storms.  Does your sump pump have a battery back up in order to protect your home from flooding and water damage?

Battery backup sump pumps are used to supplement the primary pumps, which may fail due to power outages, mechanical failure, or simply by being overwhelmed by a sudden surge of water due to flash flooding. So, if the power goes out, or the motor overheats, you could have serious damage to your home. But with a battery backup sump pump, you’ll have several more hours to remove water.

Batteries

There are two main types of sump pump: AC and DC. Units that run on DC power exclusively will only run on battery, and hence are good as a secondary pump system that will run only when the power goes out.  You do have choices in which battery backup system you choose. You can purchase a Deep-cycle marine battery, which is usually maintenance free, though a bit more expensive. Traditional batteries with acid, mean that you have to add water occasionally.

How To Install Your Backup Sump Pump

It depends on how your home or basement is configured, but there are a few ways to install your battery backup sump pump to get the most protection. The most common way to set it up is just to have the backup sump turn on immediately after the power goes out. However, another option is installing a float switch, slightly above your main unit, to kick the backup on. This ensures that in a sudden downpour your main unit won’t be overwhelmed, and you’ll get twice as much pumping power when you need it most.

And finally, if you travel and are away from your home often, you can get a sump pump system that will notify you via text or email when the power goes out. This way you can send a neighbor or relative over to help change batteries or protect your personal belongings.

Remember, you only have a few hours of battery life in a backup sump pump, so if the power is out for more than a few hours, you might experience flooding anyway, unless you can get a generator on site in time. These systems are pricey, but if you’ve spent a lot of money fixing up your basement, it might be worthwhile.

Whether you need a plumber in San Diego CA or in El Cajon CA, My Plumber has you covered. My Plumber can help advise you on the best choice of sump pump with battery backup and do a hassle-free installation for years of worry-free service. Call today to learn about our $35 savings!

Call us at: 1 (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

 

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.

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Don't Ignore Annual Check-ups

With New Years right around the corner it’s time to start thinking about resolutions. Typically, resolutions involve an increased awareness in preventative medicine because an illness is easier to treat if symptoms are caught early and few people can afford to get sick.  Much like performing a monthly breast exam, preventative maintenance of your HVAC system is tantamount to keeping it healthy and preventing costly repairs later. With regular maintenance, small problems won’t turn into big problems, and you will enjoy optimal comfort system performance.

A comprehensive furnace tune-up includes combustion efficiency cleaning &  testing, inspection for gas leaks, ignition system & safety controls, burner adjustment, lubricating motors and more.

Reasons our heating and air repair technicians recommend getting a furnace tune-up are:

  • Longer-lasting equipment– means you won’t have to spend money on new equipment.
  • Lower utility bills– since your system’s efficiency is increased up to 20%.
  • Increased comfortability– your home will get warmer quicker because of increased capacity- up to 25%.
  • Safety for your family– Annual tune-ups will identify carbon monoxide leaks- which can be deadly.

The reasonable cost of regular furnace maintenance will save you time and potentially thousands of dollars in the long run. You will protect your investment in your heating system … and add more value to your home.  Maintenance for your gas furnace should be performed once a year. It’s best done prior to the busy season because you may not get the appointment you want if you are calling in the middle of a blizzard.

Your tune-up could be FREE!

If you are enrolled in the My Plumber Heating and Cooling Priority Club, your tune-up is included as part of the cost as well as: Two additional Preventative Maintenance Checks, Priority Service, Waived Dispatch Fees, and $2,200 in Priority Club coupons. Besides, winter is here and you don’t want to be stuck with a “no heat” emergency.

 

Taking Control in a Plumbing Emergency

Many plumbing emergencies involve water running to some place that it should not be.Frequently those places are where it can do damage to drywall, carpeting or hardwood flooring.It is unlikely that you will be able to eliminate all possibility of a burst pipe or overflowing toilet, but there is a way to take control and limit the damage caused to your home.

Mark Presgrave, a Master Plumber and Chief of Operations at My Plumber in the D.C. metro area, says that the first step to controlling many plumbing emergencies is to know where the main shut-off valve is for your home and how it works.Trace the water supply line back from the water heater to an outside wall and find your shut-off valve.Learn how to operate that valve.Be able to shut it off and turn it back on.With this knowledge, you can stop the flooding and gain control over the situation.

Step two is to find all the individual shut-off valves for each fixture in the home. (Please note that not every fixture has a shut-off valve.)When looking for the valves, keep in mind that shut-off valves are usually located under the fixture; as with a toilet, or behind an appliance where it connects to the water supply.Take the time to learn how they work and make sure that they operate properly and are not leaking.

Step three is to teach every member of the household who is old enough to respond appropriately where the shut-off valves are and how to work them.A ten-year old who knows how to work a shut-off valve can prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

One note of caution: never walk through standing water if there are electrical wires nearby.Find another way to reach the shut-off valve, turn off the power supply, call the non-emergency number for your local fire department or just wait for the plumber.Water and electricity make a deadly combination.

By following the three simple steps explained above, you will be able to take control of a plumbing emergency, and will be much less likely to experience major water damage in your home.

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.

Knowledge is Power

 
Take Control of Plumbing Emergencies Before They Wreak Havoc on your Home

Many plumbing emergencies involve water running from a source that it was never intended to run from, like a busted pipe or an overflowing toilet.Frequently it runs right where it can do the most damage to drywall, carpeting or to hardwood flooring.It is unlikely that you will be able to eliminate the occasional busted pipe from your life but there is a way to take control and limit much of the trauma involved with the event.

Mark Presgrave, a Master Plumber and Chief of Operations at My Plumber says that the first step to controlling many plumbing emergencies is to know where the main shut off valve is for your home and how it works.Trace the water supply line back from the water heater to an outside wall and find your shut off valve.Learn how to operate that valve.Be able to shut it off and turn it back on.With this knowledge, you lose your victim status and start to gain control over the situation.

Step two is to find all the individual shut off valves for each fixture in the home, that has one. When looking for them, keep in mind that shut off valves are usually located under the fixture; as with a toilet or behind an appliance where it connects to the water supply.Take the time to learn how they work and make sure that they operate properly and are not leaking.

What’s step three?It’s simple really.Teach every member of the household that’s old enough to react what you just taught yourself.A ten year old who knows how to work a shut off valve can prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

Just one note of caution, please don’t tread thru water if there is an electrical source present.Find another way, cut the power supply, call the non-emergency number for your local fire department or just wait for the plumber.Water and electricity is a combination that is better left for a professional to deal with.

Water Heater Maintenance

 
Important Maintenance Information for Tank-Style Water Heaters

The average water heater sits in the dark recesses of the basement year in and year out with little or no attention from its owner.Although most people enjoy the luxury of hot water when bathing, they don’t actually think about the water heater.People seem to expect a lifetime of safe operation out of their tank-style heaters and never anticipate that a problem could occur.Occasionally, My Plumber will hear from one of its technicians about someone who built a room around their water heater and made the entrance smaller than the circumference of the tank, or just dry-walled completely around their water heater.

Considering how much people depend on having an available supply of hot water, it should be a priority to make sure one’s water heater is operating properly.Whether powered by electricity or gas, if it stores hot water in a tank until needed, it needs to be inspected frequently.

Hot water heaters come with an owner’s manual, and the safety instructions and inspection procedures outlined there should be followed.If the owner’s manual cannot be located, contact the manufacturer and request a new copy.Most manufacturers will be happy to oblige.

Here are a few tips about water heater safety:

Avoid leaving any flammable liquid, solvent or chemical stored in the same room with a tank-style water heater.Those items should be stored elsewhere, with lids firmly in place and away from children and pets.

Keep the thermostat set below 125F.At higher temperatures, the elderly, the disabled and small children can be easily burned or may be unable to react swiftly enough to avoid scalding water.

Check around the base of the water heater for moisture.Moisture indicates serious problems in the making which should be addressed quickly.

And finally, check the function of the T P (Temperature and Pressure) relief valve.Because most tank-style water heaters function day in and day out without problems, it is easy to forget about them.But a tank-style water heater with a malfunctioning T P valve is a bomb waiting to explode, and if it goes off it may very well take out the side of a house, or take off and go right through the roof.

In fact, water heater explosions were a fairly frequent occurrence before plumbing code demanded the inclusion of a T P relief valve as part of a water heater’s installation.Providing all water heaters with a T P relief valve prevented the excess pressure build up inside the tank and prevented the explosions.But the T P valve can fail, so it should be inspected frequently.

The T P valve is found on the side or on the top of the tank.Water dripping from the pipe connected to the T P valve is an indicator that the valve needs to be replaced or that the water is getting too hot due to a malfunctioning thermostat.If the T P valve needs to be replaced, it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.

The plumbing system has been estimated to make up one seventh of the cost of building a home.Plumbing disasters can cost homeowners thousands of dollars when they occur.A careful inspection of the plumbing system and judicious maintenance can prevent many problems.Because the failure of a water heater’s T P valve can cost more than dollars can ever measure, theMaster Plumbers andJourneyman technicians atMy Plumber Heating and Coolingstrongly recommend that readers take a moment to check their water heaters soon.