Tag Archives: repair

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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It’s Time for that Furnace Tune Up!

It’s September and time to get your furnace tuned up so you can comfortably enjoy the winter months without your heating costs burning a hole in your wallet. The average cost of heating a San Diego home runs about $800 a year. A well tuned furnace can significantly lower that cost.

What is a Furnace Tune Up?

Your heating system consists of three different parts, a thermostat, a blower and the combustion chamber. The thermostat measures the temperature in your home and activates the combustion chamber and blower when necessary. The combustion chamber provides the heating needed and the blower pushes air through the system to bring it into the living areas of your home. Having each of these components inspected, cleaned and repaired now will prevent you from having a breakdown during the cold winter months.

Get a Full Inspection

During our furnace tune up service, we’ll inspect your system looking for soot or other combustion residue in the combustion chamber. We’ll turn up the thermostat and check for steady blue flames (yellow or orange flames indicate incomplete burning and the potential for dangerous off-gasing). If there is a problem in the burn chamber, we will clean out the chamber and the gas delivery system.

Checking The Blower Motor

We will also clean the blower motor and fan blades to remove any built up dirt and debris to return it to optimal efficiency. We will also make sure to oil any moving parts (oil cups at the end of the central shaft) so everything is in working order.

Good Air Flow is Essential

We will inspect your fan belt and determine if it needs to be replaced. Cracked belts, or belts that show signs of slack will be repaired. We will also make sure you have a brand new furnace filter in place. This is one of the most important parts of the system. A dirty filter can inhibit air flow and reduce the efficiency of your furnace.

Heat Exchanger Danger

Our team of specialists will also inspect your heat exchanger for rust or deterioration. These issues are serious because they allow dangerous gases, like carbon monoxide, to build up in your living spaces. Any problems with your heat exchanger or chimney system will be addressed promptly. Even if there are not problems, we suggest that you install carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home to protect yourself and your family from potentially deadly gas build-ups.

Call us now to schedule your furnace tune-up before old man winter makes his debut in the San Diego area.

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Keep Your A/C Running Cold This Summer With a DIY A/C Checkup

It’s August, the hottest month of the year in the San Diego area. Don’t be one of the unlucky residents to suffer an air conditioning failure. Follow these few steps to make sure your A/C keeps you cool the rest of the year.

Check Your Air Filter

A dirty air filter is the number one cause poor air conditioner performance. As the filter collects dirt and debris the air flow to your unit is restricted. The evaporator coils fail to get enough circulation around them and eventually ice up. Simply changing out your filter (or cleaning it, if you have an electrostatic model) every few months will prevent this from happening.

Remove Obstructions from the Condenser Unit

Another potential reason for poor air circulation in your outdoor condenser unit is exterior obstruction. This could be debris that has blown in against the unit, items like pallets leaned up against it or even vegetation growth surrounding the unit. Make sure that the area surrounding your unit is clear so it is able to get the air it needs to prevent coil freeze and poor overall performance.

Clean the Condenser

Dust and dirt can build up on the coils and fins of your condenser. This problem can be quickly remedied with a wet rag, some cleaning solution and garden hose. Disconnect the power to your A/C unit by switching it off at the breaker. Using a commercial air conditioner cleaner – available from us – spray the coils. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then rinse it down with your hose. Wipe the coils and fins gently with a clean rag to remove any remaining dirt. Let the unit dry and then turn the power back on at the breaker.

Get an A/C Check-Up

Electricity isn’t getting any cheaper. The best way to make sure your unit is running efficiently and cooling you without breaking the back is to have an annual AC service checkup. It’s never too late to make sure that you have the proper refrigerant levels and your unit is working at its peak. The A/C checkup will also identify small issues with your system before they balloon into expensive fixes.

Prevent AC failure by taking a few small steps now to ensure a cool and relaxing summer!

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6 Common Garbage Disposal Repairs

The garbage disposal is one of those modern conveniences that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, even though it might only be used for 20 seconds a day. Well those 20 seconds aren’t really that important anyway, right? Well, what happens when those 20 seconds don’t go as planned? You scraped off your dinner plate, turned on the cold water and flipped the switch and…….BAM, nothing. Or maybe something does happen, like your garbage disposal starts sounding like a Rambo movie or dirty water starts backing up into your sink. You could pick up the phone and call us right away for your garbage disposal repair needs, or if you have a little bit of technical skill and a basic set of tools, you can have at it yourself.

Even though we are being a bit casual about garbage disposals, dealing with one is deadly serious. These things exist for one purpose, and one purpose only – to devour anything that is put into them. They don’t discriminate. If you fail to disconnect the power from the garbage disposal, there’s a good chance that your hand might get chewed up.

Unplug your garbage disposal from the outlet below the sink or locking it out at the fuse box. It’s also a good idea to tape the garbage disposal wall switch in the off position. Never put your hand in the machine unless you are absolutely sure that there is no power. Most garbage disposals pack ¾ to 1 horsepower and have steel or alloy blades that can easily take the skin off your fingers, if not remove the fingers completely. Now, if you’re ready to go, let’s talk about what might be wrong with your garbage disposal and how you can fix it.

6 Common Garbage Disposal Repairs

These are not the only things that can happen to a garbage disposal, but they are the most common. If you can’t find your problem on this list, you need professional help to repair it.

Garbage Disposal Doesn’t Run

Most garbage disposals come with an internal breaker system that automatically shuts down the disposal when a certain amount of resistance is encountered by the grinding blades. If your unit shuts down unexpectedly and will not turn back on, you may need to press the reset switch (usually located on the bottom of the unit). This is the problem more than half the time.

If the reset switch doesn’t do the trick, you should check the circuit breaker next. Sometimes the breaker will pop. If this is the case, turn the breaker back on, and again reset the garbage disposal. If the disposal reset pops the breaker, you’ll need a professional plumber or electrician to fix the problem.

If there is not a popped breaker and the reset button does not work, the garbage disposal motor may have failed, in which case you’ll need to purchase a new one.

Disposal Makes a Strange Noise

There are three distinct noise issues that can happen in garbage disposals, a metallic rattling sound (often described like the firing of a machine gun), a whirring (humming) noise and a squealing sound.

If your garbage disposal makes a loud rattling noise

The metal rattling sound happens when a hard object falls into the disposal and is bounced around by the blades. Removing the object will eliminate this issue. Turn off the disposal, unplug it from the socket under your sink, and remove the foreign object from the disposal. If you have unplugged the unit, it is safe to use heavy work gloves to remove the object. You can also use a slender pair of tongs.

If your garbage disposal makes a humming or whirring noise

A whirring or humming noise indicates a stuck flywheel mechanism. This type of issue happens when a piece of debris gets stuck between the shredder ring and the impellers. Using the wrench that came with your disposal, manually crank the gear at the base of the machine until the blockage is dislodged. Run some water into the disposal to clear the block. Reset the unit and use as normal. If the unit cannot be dislodged this way, contact a professional to handle it.

If your garbage disposal makes a squealing noise

If your unit is squealing, turn it off immediately. This can indicate a failing bearing and possible motor failure. It might also indicate a problem with the flywheel drive belt (if your unit is belt driven).

The Disposal Won’t Shut Off

If you have done your own garbage disposal installation and are having trouble getting the unit to shut off, check the plug that you have connected your cord to. When plugs are wired to a switch, sometimes the top half of the outlet is attached to the switch while the bottom received continual power. Try plugging the disposal into the other socket. If this doesn’t work, you have an electric issue, either between the unit and the outlet or between the outlet and the switch. Unplug the machine or shut off the main breaker switch and call a professional.

For batch run commercial garbage disposals, most have an automatic shut-off that will be tripped after 15 minutes of continuous operation. You will need to have the unit professionally serviced to prevent this from happening again.

The Disposal Clogs

When a disposal clogs and water backs up into the sink, the cause is usually a clogged drain line. It is important that you clean this clog manually and not use a commercially available clog remover (Drano, Liquid Plumber, etc.) because the caustic chemicals can damage the unit.

Identify the drain line, place an empty bucket beneath it, and detach it from the main disposal unit. This could require a wrench (if your line is attached with dual bolts) or the release of a pressure joint (simply unscrew it). Use your finger to clear out the drain line opening in the disposal, then clear the drain line of any blockage there as well.

If the clog is further down the line, you’ll need to clear it with a drain snake or call a professional plumber to handle the situation.

Water Leaks Under the Sink

There are three places that a garbage disposal is likely to leak. The first place to check is the garbage disposal drain line. Tighten the drain line bolts or the pressure seal to stop a leak here. If the pressure seal is broken, you’ll need to purchase  new o-ring (available at all major grocery stores, home-improvement  stores, etc.)

Another possible leak location is at the dishwasher connection. The same type of connection that is seen in the drain line will be used here. Either tighten the bolts or replace the gasket.

The worst place to find a leak is in the sink flange. Most of the leaks in this area ore due to failed upper gaskets. These cannot be replaced by the DIYer, and are expensive for plumbers to fix. Unless you have a top of the line commercial disposal, purchasing a new one will often cost the same amount as repair the old.

Still Need Help? Call Our San Diego Garbage Disposal Repair Team Today!

No matter what the problem is with your garbage disposal, the professionals at My Plumber CA can fix it. If it’s going to be more cost-effective to install a new garbage disposal, we’ll let you know that too. Let’s get your sink back in shape and put those dinner scraps back down the drain today. In the meantime, visit our garbage disposal repair page to learn even more about our services.

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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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Sewer Repair Costs

A sewer main can be very expensive to have repaired, averaging a few thousand dollars. The sewer main is the primary sewer line that connects your house to the city’s main sewer line. In order to see the exact problem that is wrong with the sewer line the professional may decide to use a camera. If they do, they will send a camera down the pipe to try and find the exact problem. This can add cost to the repair but it can also lower the overall cost because it helps keep the repairman from unnecessary repair or replacement costs.

Sewer mains are often underground which is why the repairs cost more. Most of the time, digging up your yard or driveway is the most costly part of the repair. You may only need a small part of the sewer line to be replaced, which wouldn’t cost a lot, but having to dig up the yard and find the problem is going to cost you. If you are building your own home, asking where the sewer main is located would be a wise decision so that you can avoid pouring concrete over it or planting expensive plants and shrubbery over it. Dealing with sewer repairs would be unpleasant enough without having to redo your driveway or your lawn and garden to boot.

If you are trying to find a way to keep the cost down for a sewer main repair you may want to consider slip lining. Slip lining is when a smaller sewer line is put inside the current sewer line. However, this can not always be done. Some repairs call for more work to be done.

In some cases you may need a permit to have your sewer line repaired. If you do this will raise the cost of the repairs. But this can also help by making sure everything is up to code. In some cases you may discover that the part of the sewer line that needs to be replaced or repaired is city property, in which case the city has to pay for the repairs, not you. If you think you may have a sewer main problem call My Plumber CA at 1-855-410-2390 to see what they can do for you. We offer annual sewer video inspections as well. You can also see our drain cleaning page and trenchless sewer replacement pages to learn more.

 

Is It Time For A Water Heater Service Or Replacement?

A hot water heater is a simple machine, one with few moving parts. As such, there is little to go wrong with it, but when it does, it’s impossible to ignore.

In general, hot water heaters should be serviced by a qualified plumbing service at least every three years, whether or not you are having problems or not. The reason for this is because there is an anode, or sacrificial rod inside the tank, which is meant to attract all the minerals which would otherwise cause corrosion to the tank itself. Depending on the mineral content of your water, the sacrificial rod will wear out over time, and it must be replaced before the tank itself starts to sustain damage.

There are tell-tale signs that your hot water heater needs attention, though. Is there condensation around the tank? Does the water appear rusty? There may be a leak in the tank or a faulty pressure relief valve.

Is there crackling in the tank? Do the pipes bang? This may be caused by a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. If it smells like rotten eggs, you might have the additional problem of excessive bacteria buildup in the tank.

Conventional hot water tanks have a life expectancy of about a decade (on municipal water). If your tank is getting up there in years, be aware that nearly any mechanical issue will likely suggest replacement — new tanks are up to 20% more energy efficient and can save you a lot of money.

If it’s been more than a year since your hot water heater has been serviced, or you’re experiencing any of the problems above, call My Plumber San Diego at 1-855-410-2390 to get things fixed up right.