Preventing Fall Plumbing Problems

It’s cooling down, the leaves are changing colors and everything is getting an added dose of pumpkin spice, which can only mean one thing – fall is here! But before you pull out your hoodies, decorate for Halloween or start up the fireplace, it is important to make sure that your plumbing is as ready for fall as you are. The best way to avoid plumbing problems is with preventive maintenance. Here are a few tips to help make sure this autumn is the most comfortable one for you and your home.

Protect Your Pipes

Here in eastern North Carolina we usually have a pretty mild fall season, but there can be unexpected freezing days as well, especially as winter gets closer. Much like you bundle up in that hoodie to protect from the cold, it is important to do the same to your pipes. This fall, make sure that your pipes are properly insulated. If you’re not sure how to insulate your pipes, call the plumbing experts at Eastern Plumbing in Greenville and New Bern today! Oh, and if you have pipes outside, like many of us do, make sure to cover them too!

Wrap Up Your Water Hose

Your outdoor water hose was a blessing all summer long, but once the chilly season approaches that means it is time to wrap it up until next spring. If you leave your hose hooked on the outdoor faucet, the water in the pipe may freeze, causing damage to both your hose and your pipes.

Drain Your Water Heater

We dare say that no other home appliance is more important than your water heater in the fall and winter months! Nothing beats the cold like a warm bath or hot water for cup of coffee or tea. That’s why you should make sure that you drain your water heater. Draining your water heater empties out any sediment that may have built up over the months. This is especially important if you live in an area that uses hard water.

Tame The Leaves

Keep an eye on falling leaves and take notice to where they land. Remember that leaves don’t just fall on the ground below the tree – the wind, rain and traffic can move them in masses around your yard often times in hollows like eavestroughs, basement window wells and gutters. These falling leaves can block your drain spouts and cause your gutter system to clog. Backed-up water can get into your roof and foundation and cause major headaches, especially in the upcoming winter. Be sure to rake up piles of leaves and bag them immediately so they don’t disturb your yard a second time.

Get An Inspection

At Eastern Plumbing, we recommend regular inspections of your drains and plumbing. Fall is the perfect time to schedule one for your home. Before it gets colder and plumbing problems become much more damaging, Eastern Plumbing can:

  • Identify and repair cracked or leaking pipes,
  • Check your hot water heater for full efficiency, and
  • Conduct any faucet repair you may need.

We know how quickly the weather can change in eastern North Carolina, so we suggest getting your fall plumbing maintenance done now. At Eastern Plumbing, we want everyone to have a cozy fall and winter. Contact us today to make sure your plumbing is ready for the colder weather – and don’t forget we’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency!

5 Most Common Summer Plumbing Problems… and How to Avoid Them

Summer is all about having fun – backyard barbecues, enjoying the outdoors, traveling and relaxing. However, the warmer months are a prime time for plumbing problems that may not occur at other times of the year. Here are five common plumbing problems to watch out for, so you can spend more time having summer fun!

1. Clogged Drains

Whether your summer fun includes sandy beaches, surprise muddy afternoon rain showers or grassy sprinkler play, it’s a good bet that it comes with some extra sand/dirt at the end of the day. When washing up after your days adventure, make sure to keep the worst of it out of your drains. They weren’t designed to handle sizable amounts of sand, mud or other debris, and could become clogged or damaged. Instead of hoping right into the shower, hose the kids, any four legged friends and yourself off outside. Knocking any extra debris from clothes, you plan to place in the washing machine, while outside will also give your drains a hand.

2. Washing Machine Maintenance

With the kids at home for the summer, your washing machine will be running a lot more than usual. Those summer activities we love so much, like spending days at the pool or the beach, will also results in more laundry to wash, which can put additional stress on your washing machine. To prevent creating an indoor swimming pool in your house, check the hoses at the back of the machine for any possible leaks. Moving the machine out from the wall a little will help prevent the hose from kinking as well.

3.  Clogged Disposal

With all the barbecues going on and guests running around your house, you will need to be careful of how you dispose of waste food. Avoid flushing hard fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and corn, down your garbage disposal. These types of produce can damage the blades in your disposal or cause unwanted clogs. Hard seeds and pits, including popcorn kernels, can also be a hazard. You also shouldn’t pour leftover grease and oil down the drain after grilling out. Grease and oil can solidify inside a garbage disposal and cause clogs in the drain pipe. It is always (not just in the summer months) a good idea to run cold water through your disposal for a few seconds before and after you use it to clear any remaining bits of food. Following theses tips can help keep your disposal clean and fully functional all summer long!

4. Sprinkler Issues

Having your lawn’s sprinkler system heads inspected and cleaned before the season begins is the first step to having happy and functioning sprinklers all summer long. Throughout the summer it is important to be careful while mowing the lawn. Aboveground sprinkler heads are easily damaged by mower blades and broken sprinkler heads can waste water and cause the grass to die.

5. Sewer Line Backups

Sewers can backup when afternoon summer showers or thunderstorms hit and over saturate the ground. Excessive rain can get into sewer pipes through cracks, causing the sewer line to back up. Servicing your sewers before the summer comes can help you avoid the worst of the issues. Installing a drain plug can also help prevent water from backing up during summer storms. However, if you do see signs of sewer line problems, such as water from the toilet backing up into the bathtub drain, call a plumber right away!

We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

Ice Maker FAQ

It’s lemonade season. Sun-soaked summer days mean fun outside as well and the need for cool drinks. Your ice maker this time of year is relied upon daily.

Why is my ice maker not producing any ice?

If your ice maker is not making ice, there could be several causes. The most common cause is frozen water in the line. To fix this, first unplug the refrigerator. Then locate the shut-off valve and turn it off. After it is turned off, pour warm water over the water line to defrost it and get water running again. Other methods for thawing out the water line include using a hair dryer, warm towel and just leaving the refrigerator unplugged for awhile.

Why does the ice smell or taste bad?

There are several potential causes for your ice smelling or tasting bad. One is your water filter. If the water filter is old, then it can cause foul odor and taste in the ice. A best practice is to replace the water filter every 6 months or so.

Another potential cause is the food in your freezer. If food has spilled into the ice maker, this could cause odors and bad taste. This could be worse if there is spoiled or bad food in the freezer.

Low usage can also be the culprit. Ice can actually become old and stale, and absorb food odors. Make sure to run the ice machine a couple times a week just to make sure this does not happen.

If different minerals or materials get into the water supply, that can cause bad tasting ice. Make sure to check and see if this is happening before making other changes. This will have to be fixed by a professional.

Why is my ice maker leaking or dripping?

There are several things to check if your ice maker is leaking or dripping. Check the water valve for leaks as well as the water line fittings. If these are not secure or have cracks, that can cause problems with the ice maker.

The refrigerator also needs to be level. If it’s not level, that can cause an uneven flow of water and lead to leaks and drips.

There could also be leaks in different parts of the ice machine or refrigerator. The diagnosis and treatment of this depends on your exact model of refrigerator.

If the ice maker is leaking onto your kitchen floor, then turn off the ice maker and the water supply before anything else is done. This will help you be able to fix the problem and not waste water.

How do I clean my ice maker?

The exact method depends on the model of your refrigerator. But, these are the general guidelines that need to followed. The first step is to lift up the ice maker bar. This will stop the machine from making any more ice and enable you to clean it thoroughly. After you remove the ice maker, fill your sink with warm water and dishwashing detergent. Dip a rag in the water and then wash the ice maker unit in the freezer. After you dry this, wash the ice bin the same way. Now it’s time to sanitize the storage bin. Mix 1/2 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Dampen a rag and wipe down the ice maker in the freezer. Do the same with the storage bin. After this, run the storage bin through the dishwasher on a sanitizing cycle and then dry off the bin and ice maker unit.

We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

Saving Water Outside – Tips

Outside water use accounts for a large portion of consumption, especially during the summer. To help conserve resources and money, here are a few best practices for this year.

Adjust the height on your lawnmower

By increasing the height of your lawnmower, the grass will be cut at a taller level. Taller grass improves shade on the ground underneath which holds moisture better. This lessens the need to water your lawn as often, therefore saving water.

Aerate your lawn every so often

By inserting holes every couple inches throughout your yard, more water reaches the roots. This also lessens the need to water your lawn as often.

Get rid of weeds every chance you get

Weeds compete with grass and other growth for water and nutrients. This can increase the water needed to ensure desired growth and care.

Go easy on the fertilizer

Using too much fertilizer can increase the amount of water needed for growth. When fertilizer is used, plant growth is promoted, which means the plant needs more water than normal. Allow plants to grow at a normal rate to eliminate the need for excessive water.

Wash your car on the grass

Without the expense of damaging your lawn, park the car on the lawn as you wash it. The runoff water will go into the ground and water your lawn at the same time. Make sure not to use too many chemicals if you use this method. This saves water and also eliminates water running down the driveway and into the street. This same method can apply to washing your pets, but isn’t recommended for humans.

Give your car a “military shower”

When you’re washing the car, turn the water off. Only use the water to wet the car and to rinse at the end. This can save a large amount of water and not at the cost of a less-clean car.

Repair broken or cracked pipes

Water seeping through these pipes can be underneath your house or throughout your yard. This leads to large amounts of water being wasted and used. Eastern Plumbing is ready, 24/7, to help you, contact us today.

House Mold 101

The Spring and Summer months bring an increased risk of mold in and out of the home. Mold is a very serious issue that needs to be taken care of before it results in damage to your house and health. There are many different kinds of molds that have different physical appearances, effects on things around them and treatments to eradicate them.

While there are several types of mold that can be found inside the house, there are a couple forms that are more common than others.

Alternaria

While usually found outdoors, this form of mold fosters in damp places and under sinks. Water damage and leaky pipes can be big contributing factors to the development of this type of mold. Because of it’s ability to lodge in the nose and mouth, it can cause a reaction to people who are subjected to it.

Aspergillus

This type of mold is known as the most common one found in homes. Also found in wet environments, Aspergillus can be found in house dust. Exposure and inhalation of this mold can result in disease and lung problems.

Aureobasidium

Usually found outdoors, it can be found on wooden and painted surfaces. It can be black or pink in color (it’s also called “Pink Mold”), and most people will have a bad reaction when exposed to it.

Cladosporium

Known as the most common type of outdoor mold, this nuisance can enter the home through any opening and airway. HVAC is one of the most common and can result in it being spread to areas inside the house. If breathed, it can cause respiratory issues and trigger bigger health issues.

Mucor

This form of mold grows very fast and has a usual origin in soil. It appears as white or grayish in color and it’s physical makeup is like that of cotton. Inside the house, it might be found along ducts and air conditioning vents. This can cause infections of the sinuses called Zygomycosis.

Penicillium

A very mobile form of mold, it grows is areas that have been succumbed to water damage. It appears blue or green in color and can cause severe sinus infections.

Stachybotrys Chartarum

Also known as “Black Mold,” this slimy, toxic mold can cause several health problems. It produces mycotoxins that could potentially result in fatigue, asthma issues, depression and respiratory complications.

Don’t let mold grow out of control in your home. It can cause serious health issues and result in physical damage to your home. Contact a mold remediation specialist today to take care of any mold you may find in your home.

All About the Plunger

It has saved you many times. It always has your back. When there is nobody to turn to, it can always be the hero in your war with the toilet (and kitchen sink! How to unplug your kitchen sink using a plunger). Everyone has one but most people don’t really know it’s story, and a lot don’t know the proper way to yield one.

Best All-Around

The plunger has a very shady past. The exact inventor and invention date are not known. What is known is that the science behind what makes plungers effective is utilized by many different industries, like in music, auto care and healthcare. It’s effectiveness and usefulness has made it one of the most versatile household instruments around today.

They’re Diverse

There area couple different types of plungers. The classic version is known as the cup plunger. This type is best for sinks, bathtubs and showers. There is also the toilet plunger, which has an additional flap on the inside. The accordion plunger is made of plastic, has a smaller cup and several layers to get maximum suction. The Taze plunger is for more commercial-style clogs, and has a composition that is a little more complicated.

Treat it Well

Make sure to clean your plunger after each use. This will disinfect the germs that are located on the cup and help with potentially bad smells. It is also a good idea to invest in a form of storage for your plunger if it does not come with one. This will aid you in not having to search for it in your time of need as well as protect it from damages.

Game Plan

Before the battle starts, make sure you choose to correct weapon. Figure out the best plunger for your needs. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts, plug all drains around you. This includes showers and sinks. Another expert tip is to spread petroleum jelly on the outside of the plunger. Now it’s time to rock and roll. Be sure to stretch and warm up, and get your mind right. After you ensure the entire rim of the cup is touching the toilet and surrounding the hole, start plunging as linear as possible. Alter the speed of force you use for about 30 seconds, and then try again. If this doesn’t get the job done, it may be time to call in Eastern Plumbing for some backup.

Spring and Summer Plumbing Tips

With the rise in temperatures and rain showers, there are preparations homeowners will need to make. Your pipes are coming off of the cold season, and with the change in weather, comes a new set of things to check for and potential problems.

Check Pipes

Due to increased water usage from outdoor actives and consumption from warmer weather, pipe issues can be amplified. Be sure to check pipes throughout your house in order to avoid any spring or summer plumbing issues. Damaged pipes lead to leaks, standing water, wasted money, wall/ceiling/floor damage and that means time and money.

Check Water Heater

In order to save on utility bills, lower the temperature on your water heater and hot water supply. Don’t lower it too much, just a few degrees can save you money each month. This will also help decrease your electricity usage. It is also suggested that if your water heater is more than 15 years old, you consider replacing it. The older a water heater is, the more likely changes in weather could cause a major plumbing problem.

Be Aware of Mold

The hot season brings an increased risk of mold inside and outside the house. Soak up standing water and be on the lookout for any condensation that develops. Mold is typically found in basements, attics, air conditioning units and outside areas. Standing water mixed with warmer weather can also cause damage to your plumbing and health.

Clear Debris

Check all drains, gutters and spouts outside for items that could be blocking water flow. After a long fall and winter, your gutters and downspouts may be full of pine needles, leaves, twigs and other debris. Clean out your gutters and use a plumber’s auger to clear out your home’s downspouts. This will prevent leaks in your home and prevent water damage during spring showers.

Inspect Washing Machine

Check for leaks, bulges and damages to cords. This is also another opportunity to look for standing water, which is a sign of a leak somewhere in the piping, machine or surrounding area. It really “stinks” to have either your washing machine or dishwasher stop working.

Call Eastern Plumbing, we’d be happy to assist you through any seasonal changes.

Warnings that You Need a Pipe Repair

As the weather gets warmer, rain in eastern North Carolina will rise. Coming out of the winter season, the temperature elevation combined with this increase in precipitation puts a lot of demand on your pipes. It can bring to light problems that already exist, but it can escalate issues that may be minor. It’s important to diagnose these issues as soon as possible so that immediate action can be taken to save you time, money and headaches. Here are a couple of signs to be on the lookout for this Spring and Summer season.

Low Water Pressure

This warning sign is noticeable in the shower, washing dishes, washings your hands, brushing your teeth, etc. If you notice the water is not coming out of your shower head or faucet as powerful or consistent as it used to, do further inspection – a pipe repair might be in the future for you.

Pipe Leaks

Leaks in pipes can be heard and seen. If there is a dripping sound coming somewhere in your house, this is a clear sign that something needs to be done. Leaky pipes need to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid monetary and time consequences.

Damp Spots in Walls, Floor or Ceiling

When spotted, wet spots in your home are always a sign of a bigger issue. It is highly recommended to get the help of a professional before investing large amounts of money on something that may or may not fix the problem. While most of the time this is a major indicator of a pipe issue, it is best to be sure before going further.

Water Discoloration

If water coming out of your fixtures smells bad, is discolored, or has any unusual properties about it, this is a possible issue. It is best to further investigate before consuming or using any more water in your house.

Inexplicably Rising Water Bills

If your water bills are higher than normal and you are not sure why, your pipes could be behind it all. If you have a leaky pipe or two, water could be wasted daily. By leaking out, you may run more water because of low water pressure. This causes your bills to rise, which will get higher the longer it takes you to discover and fix it.

Weird Noises

It is possible to hear the sound of water running through your pipes in your house. If there is an uncommon noise associated with this, that’s a red flag. This noise could be the result of a blockage, a leak or pipes that are too old and need attention. Be aware of peculiar sounds, especially in the walls of older homes.

Corroded Pipes

Inspecting your pipes up close can also reveal rusty and/or corroded pipes. Even if the pipes that are located outside are rusty, that is an indication that the pipes inside the house are rusty as well. Corroded pipes can cause subsequent problems throughout the house. It can hurt entire plumbing systems, cause foul odors, stain fixtures and produce health problems.

If you need a pipe repair or are unsure, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

All Natural Cleaners – Ingredients & Recipes

Natural cleaners and ingredients can help you save time, money and make your home safer. Each appliance and surface requires a different type of cleaner. It is important to realize that these natural options are only meant for certain appliances and surfaces. Below is a list of some of the most popular natural cleaners as well as some recipes.

Ingredients

These individual ingredients have many uses when used alone. These can be found in grocery stores, home improvement stores and most of these could probably be found in your home right now!

Lemons

Lemons have strong cleaning properties in addition to a great, clean scent. This can be used in multipurpose cleaners as well as refrigerators and floors.

Vinegar

Vinegar can be used to clean because of its bacteria killing properties. Specifically, white vinegar can be used all around the house to clean surfaces like the toilet, microwave and countertops. Vinegar can be mixed with water in a spray bottle for easy application.

Baking soda

Baking soda has natural cleaning and deodorizing qualities to make it a very effective alternative to chemicals. It can be sprinkled on the surface or a sponge and used to clean the sink, oven or your grill.

Borax

Borax can be used to clean carpets and pests. It can also be used to get outdoor furniture ready for the summer and to clean the garbage disposal.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and a natural bleaching and cleaning agent. It has many uses; like disinfecting, removing mold, washing carpets, floors and windows and even mouthwash!

Essential oils

Natural essential oils have two important qualities that can boost any natural cleaning recipe; their natural scent and their cleaning properties. They are naturally non-toxic while still being effective at killing germs.

Recipes

Using all-natural ingredients, these recipes are non-toxic and are safe for use in the home. There are no harmful chemicals in these recipes that could lead to health hazards for you, your family or your pets.

All purpose cleaner 

Hydrogen peroxide, lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil and peppermint essential oil

Carpet Cleaner 

Baking soda and Borax powder

Glass Cleaner 

Hot water, cornstarch, rubbing alcohol and white vinegar

Drain Cleaner

Boiling water, baking soda and white vinegar

Laundry Soap 

Borax, Washing soda and organic/homemade soap

Air Freshener 

Baking soda and essential oil of choice

Liquid Drain Cleaners – Risks

When it comes to unclogging your drains, liquid drain cleaners are easiest. They are effective and time efficient. But while they save time now, they will cost you later. After several uses, liquid chemical drain cleaners can have damaging effects to you and your plumbing.

Dangers of Chemical Cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners can have negative effects on your drains and health. Each liquid cleaner is different in its chemical makeup and its subsequent effects.

Drains

Because liquid chemical cleaners are designed to dissolve things like hair and fingernails, they can cause damage to unwanted things as well. If they get on surrounding wood or countertops, this could result in damages. Damage to your pipes themselves can also be a side effect. The chemicals in the cleaner can eat away at the pipes and result in corrosion and weakening. The bigger the clog the greater the effects due to the length of time the chemicals are stagnant and “eating.” So while the clog may have been fixed, over time this could lead to a much bigger problem down the road.

Health

Due to the harmful effects chemical drain cleaners have on steel pipes, it is not farfetched to realize they can have harmful effects on you as well. The same chemicals that can eat away at clogs and pipes can have detrimental effects on your skin, clothes and anything it touches. The main ingredient in most chemical drain cleaners is either sodium hydroxide or sulphuric acid. Both of these are highly toxic and can lead to severe health problems if ingested by swallowing or breathing. If the chemicals get on your skin or eyes, burns and blindness can occur.

There can also be very harmful effects if chemical drain cleaners mix with other household chemicals. This can happen with something already poured down the drain or something nearby. When this happens, there is a chance of an explosive reaction that can cause any number of issues and concerns.

Better Alternatives

Instead of risking the health of your pipes and body, choose one of the alternatives to liquid chemical drain cleaners.

Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme drain cleaners are safer liquid drain cleaners that do not contain harmful chemicals. These cleaners contain bacteria that interact with the clogs and break them down. These concentrated enzymes also kill the organic matter that can cause bad odor.  While these might be slower than chemical cleaners, they are safer to pipes and you.

Another advantage of enzyme cleaners is that they are biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. Once these bacteria are sprayed or poured, they activate and start to multiply. After the job is done, these bacteria die and are completely safe for the environment.

Physical De-Cloggers

Unclogging your drain physically yourself is much safer than chemical drain cleaners. There are no chemicals involved or harmful side effects. This can be done with a plunger, drain snake or physically removing the pipe among other methods. This eliminates the risk of pouring something down the drain.

Contact a Professional

Clogged drains can be a very tricky problem. The best solution is to enlist the help of a professional. Contact Eastern Plumbing today and we’ll get you up and running normally.

Frozen Pipes – Preventing and Thawing

As colder weather sweeps the country, there are many threats to your home’s plumbing. One of these is frozen pipes. When water inside your pipes freezes, it expands. This expansion can wreak havoc on the pipes that run throughout your house, causing ruptures and cracks. There are several steps you can take to prevent freezing from happening, as well as thawing them back out if it does.

Preventing

The best method to ensure healthy plumbing is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Disconnect outdoor water hose

A garden hose left out in the cold can cause a chain reaction of freezing to take place throughout your home. Water could freeze in the hose and then move into the water lines.

Insulating all water pipes

Use foam/rubber pipe insulator or some other safe method to keep pipes dry and help prevent freezing. This needs to be done correctly in order to prevent mold growth and decay by generating and retaining moisture inside.

Keep pipes heated

This can be done in a variety of ways. Heat tape and heated reflector lamps are two examples of ways to keep pipes from freezing.

Keep home warm

Turning up the thermostat will help in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout the home and increase the temperature of everything inside. It is also important to keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid the forming of condensation.

Turn off sprinkler system

Not only does the main water supply to the irrigation system need to be shut off, but it also needs to be protected. Make sure that it is wrapped in insulation or some other form of shelter to protect it from freezing temperatures. This can even be done with mulch or pine straw.

Drip faucets

Keep water running through the pipes at a slow rate by dripping your faucets. This helps to avoid the settling of water. Another tip is to attach a string to the faucet that hangs down to avoid annoying dripping sounds.

Thawing

If pipes do freeze, there are best practices when it comes to thawing them back out.

Apply heat to pipe and surrounding air directly

This can be done with a hair dryer, heat gun, electric heating pad, space heater, bare incandescent bulbs, heat lamps and other methods. This heating needs to be applied gradually and evenly and monitored closely to avoid pipe and water damage.

Wrap with heat tape/cable

This can be purchased from most hardware stores. Wrap this tape/cable around the pipe in a single layer and then plug it in. Do not overlap electric heat tape/cable. It is recommended to wrap around pipe in a spiral motion.

Open faucets slightly

This is the same idea as prevention. Flowing water will help reduce stagnant water and result in less freezing. Also, the running water will help thaw out the ice if it does develop.

Pour salt down frozen drain

Salt lowers the melting point of ice. Start with pouring a tablespoon of salt down the drain and then give it a few moments to start working.

If you’re leaving your house for an extended period of time this winter, there are certain steps that should be taken to avoid coming home to frozen pipes and subsequent damage. Shut off the main water supply and open all faucets. This will help empty the water out of the pipes and reduce the sitting water left. Also, flushing all of the toilets helps accomplish this. Before you leave, set your thermostat no lower than 55º F. Doing so will aid in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout your home.

There are many ways to prevent and thaw out frozen pipes. Prevention is always the better route to avoid any serious and long-term damage. If a freeze does happen, locating the frozen pipe and then taking the necessary steps can be very tedious and difficult. It is recommended to get the help of a professional before acting uninformed. Contact Eastern Plumbing for all of your frozen pipe needs.

Expanding Your Shower – Tips

Most Americans shower daily. When you add it up, you’ll see you’re spending a lot of time spent in an enclosed space so you might as well be comfortable. Unfortunately, home shower stalls are often three by five feet or smaller. Most are barely large enough for an adult to spread out their arms. A bigger shower would allow you more space, however, you may not want to break the bank on a plumbing rehab. If you’re lucky in your current bathroom configuration, there may be a way to expand your shower space without spending a fortune or rearranging your pipes.

Limited Space, Limited Options

Your options for expanding your shower will largely depend on your bathroom’s layout. If you’re on a budget, you don’t want to knock out or move any of the walls. It’s also easier if you can avoid moving your supply lines or getting into other plumbing repairs. So, that limits your expansion options to two directions – away from the shower head and away from the side wall.

If you’re fortunate enough to have some spare space, the project to move the shower walls or door by a foot or more may not be too daunting – either of which could make a huge difference in your bathing experience. You could also upgrade the space with features like a bench, or smart bathing technology. A larger shower area can also make your bathroom more accessible to those with limited mobility or disabilities.

Putting the Pan in Place

The most critical aspect of enlarging your shower is replacing the shower pan. If you’re an expert DIYer, you can build your own custom shower pan using cement and a special membrane. However, most people will have an easier time purchasing a pre-existing shower pan, which will limit your options with the size and dimensions of the shower and may also require you to move the floor drain to line up with the hole in the pan.

It’s absolutely crucial that you install the shower pan correctly; otherwise, water can leak around it promoting mold and mildew growth and slowly undermining your infrastructure. Once the pan is in place, reinstalling larger shower walls and a door is a much less complicated affair – just make sure all the seals around the door are tight so water won’t leak out onto the floor.

True Comfort in Your Bathroom

Expanding your shower can be a tricky, time-consuming process, but the rewards are self-evident when you enjoy all that extra space while you bathe. If you need help with a bathroom remodel or any other plumbing repairs, get in touch with Eastern Plumbing today.

Tips to Avoid a Holiday Clog

The upcoming Holiday season is sure to bring many wonderful things. Time spent with family, good food and quality rest are all things to be enjoyed in the coming weeks. While there are so many great things to come, one of the worst things that you are at risk for are clogging drains. Whether it’s a sink or toilet, Holiday clogs are no fun. Here are a few suggestions to avoid dealing drain pains.

Throw Leftovers in the Trash-NOT Toilet or Sink

Turkey legs, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy all need to go in the trash. Bones, skin and other feast paraphernalia will destroy your pipes and cause stoppage. Even if you cook the greatest turkey in the South, your toilet and sink will spit it out. Guaranteed.

Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain

Grease and your drains should not spend any of the holidays together. Grease will harden inside and cause significant damage to the flow of your toilet and/or sink. Keep them away from each other, just like those two fighting relatives.

Go Easy on the Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal is a wonderful thing. But, it is not superman. Bones, grease, noodles and fruit pits are a few examples of things not to throw down there. A best practice is to always feed the garbage disposal slowly instead of trying to choke it. If you rush it, you will pay for it later.

Mesh Screens Save the Day

Everyone should be using a mesh screen in the sink. If not, invest in one this Holiday season. Besides potentially rescuing valuable items from going down the drain, it saves you time and money from clogs and odors. Parts that are too big to go through the screen should not be going down the non-disposal side of your sink. But instead of doing extra work worrying about that, wash without care and let the screen do it for you.

With these tips in mind, Eastern Plumbing knows that accidents happen. If one does, call us, we are always there for you. Feel free to have some holiday cake while waiting.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than what I think it needs to be, what temperature should it be set on?

The standard temperature manufacturers’ use when pre-setting hot water heaters at the factory is typically 120°F. This is a sufficient temperature for most households; however you can adjust the temperature to meet your needs. Both thermostats should be set to the same temperature. Keep in mind that hot water also helps in minimizing the growth of bacteria. Consult Eastern Plumbing for the recommended temperatures for your particular needs.

NOTE: You should turn off the electricity to the water heater before performing any maintenance. There may be exposed wires behind the panels which could result in shock.

What could the rumbling sound I hear coming from the water heater be?

Rumbling sounds can be an indication that sediment has built up on the bottom of the water heater. Water may become trapped in the sediment and begin to boil. If this is happening, the water heater is not operating efficiently and the sediment isn’t allowing the heat to transfer to the water in the tank. You can try draining a few gallons of water off the bottom of the tank. Water heaters should be drained on an annual basis to remove sediment. Contact Eastern Plumbing if you require maintenance or have questions about your hot water heater.

WARNING: Hot water is dangerous. Discharge the water into a floor drain, laundry tub or bathtub. Hot water will kill your grass if allowed to run on your lawn. Turn off power to water heater prior to draining.

What happens when roots get inside drain lines?

Roots from shrubs and trees can completely fill a pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. These root masses quickly become clogged with toilet tissue, grease and other debris flowing from your home to the main sewer, resulting in reduced flow, slow running drains and in most cases a complete blockage. Once roots have entered the pipe, they continue to grow and expand, exerting considerable pressure at the crack or joint. This increased pressure often breaks the pipe and may result in total collapse, which requires repair or replacement. Some pipe materials are more susceptible to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. PVC pipe has fewer joints and when properly installed is almost 100% effective against root penetrations. Allow Eastern Plumbing to use state-of-the-art inline drain cameras to view and record your drain problems.

What is the white substance around my shower head and faucet?

The unsightly buildup is mineral deposits. To remove these deposits from the shower head, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the shower head and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight. A professional at Eastern Plumbing can explain water softening and conditioning options available to you.

How can I eliminate the odor coming from my garbage disposal?

This is a common plumbing troubleshooting question. Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposal. To eliminate odors, place ice cubes and lemon peels or orange peels in the disposal, and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposal while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away.

What is the recommendation for replacing a toilet in my home?

When considering any new fixture for your home, we recommend that you choose a fixture made by one of the major manufacturers. Poor mounting and deteriorating rings and seals may cause leaks which can cause costly damage to your home. Keep in mind that many of the new toilets conform to new government standards that require they use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush which can save you money on your water and sewer bills. If you need help with replacing a toilet in your home, contact Eastern Plumbing.

What could be the cause of my recent high water bills?

You may want to check to see if a toilet is leaking. Check the water level in the tank to see if water is overflowing into the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank which has a small tube connected to it. In the event water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Periodic maintenance by an Eastern Plumbing professional will ensure proper operation.

I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking noises.

Hammering pipes can be cause by various things within your piping system. Loose fittings, toilet fill valves and the absence of an expansion tank on your water heater a just a few things which can cause pipes to hammer. If are hearing noises from your water pipes, contact Eastern Plumbing to get a professional diagnosis.

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

First, you can try using a plunger. Second, you can remove the trap and remove any debris. Third, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet. There are also special enzyme-based drain openers, which may help dissolve buildup in pipes in older homes. You can also call the professionals at Eastern Plumbing and we’d be happy to help.

My Toilet ‘Burps’! What’s Going On?

The common issue of drains that gurgle or burp is caused by inability of air to get into or out of the drainage system. All plumbing fixtures require a p-trap, to keep sewer gas from entering the home. The drainage system requires vents to allow air to move freely through the drainage system. If the vent line becomes obstructed, the air will compress within the system and then push through the p-trap which causes the gurgling or burping sounds. If you are having this problem, please call Eastern Pluming to determine proper solutions.

Strengthen Your Water Heater

Prolong Your Water Heaters Life with an Inspection

Your water heater is one of the main devices in your homes comfort system. It supplies hot water for use in the dishwasher, washing machine, sinks and showers. Other than your HVAC system, it also uses the most energy. Given its importance, the stakes are high when it comes to keeping your hot water heater running in peak condition. With proper maintenance, you can extend its life and delay the moment when you need to purchase a new model. Read on to learn more.

Getting the Most from Your Household Plumbing

There are several steps you can take yourself to keep the water heater running smoothly:

  • Inspect the Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve. Make sure your pressure valve is working correctly by turning off the power and water to your hot water unit and then tripping the valve. Air, water or vapor should come out – if they don’t, you need to replace the valve. A malfunctioning valve could cause an explosion if the tank becomes over-pressurized.
  • Flush out Your Tank. It’s a good idea to empty the tank once a year or so to remove any sediment that has accumulated inside; and, it’s convenient to take care of this when you’re checking the pressure valve. Turn off the water and power to the water heater, hook a hose up to the drain valve and place the other end somewhere where it’s safe to discharge hot water. Next, with the pressure relief valve already open, flip open the drain valve and let all the water flow out. Close the drain valve and the pressure relief valve. Turn on the water supply for the water heater and turn on your hot water faucets. Wait until water starts coming out before you power up the heater again.
  • Check on Your Anode Rod. The anode rod helps prevent corrosion in your hot water tank and is an essential tool for prolonging its life. You can check on this while the tank is drained by unscrewing the hex head at the top of the tank and pulling out the rod. If there is not much left of the anode rod it is time to replace it. They are typically between three and four feet long. In general, anode rods should last about five years, but it’s a good idea to check on them annually.

Put Your Household Plumbing in Expert Hands

Now is the time to be thinking about your water heater maintenance. With the colder weather your water heater must work harder, so the more vigilant you are about maintenance, the less likely you’ll need an emergency repair or replacement. In addition to your own interventions, a yearly visit from a qualified plumber can catch any problems you missed or weren’t able to resolve and extend the lifespan of your water heater even more.

If you need your hot water heater inspected, or have any other problems with your household plumbing, contact Eastern Plumbing today.