Protect Pipes and Tankless Water Heaters From Freezing Temperatures

“Make sure to drip your faucets,” is a piece of advice we often hear from others when the temperatures begin to drop below the freezing mark. You’ll be happy to know these advice givers are right! Leaving your faucet open during cold weather will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting – which can lead to very expensive damages to your home. In addition to dripping your faucets, there are more ways to prevent winter from wreaking havoc on your plumbing system. Keep these tips in mind as things begin to cool down.

1. Keep Your Heat On

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, especially around the holiday season, or if you are looking to winterize your vacation home, be sure to keep the heat on. You do not have to set the temperature as high as you normally would if you were actually there, but keeping it set above 50° is advised. This should provide enough warmth to keep the water inside your pipes from freezing.

2. Open Cabinet Doors

You may not know this, but pipes are often located in the cabinets. As the temperature begins to reach the freezing point, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of your house can keep these pipes warm as well.

3. Use Domes on Outside Faucets

To reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing and causing a costly leak, place an insulating dome or other covering on any outdoor faucet or spigot. You can purchase these inexpensive covers at your local hardware or home improvement store.

4. Insulate Your Pipes

It is important to insulate the pipes in your home’s attic, crawl space or other areas that may not have proper insulation. Fit your pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing.

5. Seal Cracks and Holes

While you are in the basement or attic insulating exposed pipes, take the time to look for any holes or cracks that may exist near pipes. Caulk any holes you see on both interior and exterior walls. By doing this you are helping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Remember that in severe cold, even the slightest hole can let enough cold air in to cause pipes to freeze.

Old Man Winter does not look kindly upon plumbing systems. In addition to protecting your pipes from freezing, you should also take measures to prevent your tankless water heater from freezing as well.

6. Insulate External Pipes

While tankless hot water heating systems contain freeze prevention heaters, the hot and cold water plumbing lines leading to and from the water heater do not. Protect these lines from freezing by insulating them with items such as pipe covers, solenoids or heat tape.

If your pipes or tankless water heater freezes despite taking these preventive measures, don’t panic. Just because your pipes are frozen does not mean they have already burst. If you turn the faucet on and nothing comes out, leave it turned on and contact Eastern Plumbing right away. We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency.

Garbage Disposal Do’s & Don’ts

Garbage disposals may be one of the handiest appliances in your entire house, or at least we think so! If you disagree, you can at least admit they make things much easier in the kitchen. That is…as long as they are maintained and used properly. When not maintained and used properly, garbage disposals can easily break down, clog and block your drains. Unfortunately, these break downs and clogs can cause a long list of expensive plumbing problems. Don’t worry – we have put together a few Garbage Disposal Do’s and Don’ts to keep our favorite kitchen appliance running problem-free!

Garbage Disposal Don’ts

DON’T just throw everything in it

A garbage disposal is NOT a trash can. You should only use your garbage disposal for small table scraps. Adding too much food at once can result in some serious clogging.

DON’T grind the following items:

  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Metals
  • Cigarette butts
  • Paper
  • Non-food items
  • Large bones
  • Banana peels
  • Fruit Pits
  • Coffee Grounds

Foods that have a lot of strings or fibers such as, corn husks, onion skins and artichokes are also bad for your disposal. If any one of these items from the above list falls into your disposal, turn it off at the circuit breaker and retrieve it safely.

DON’T pour any grease in it

Oils, fats and grease are not good for your disposal. They do not drain properly and will accumulate around the blade system and clog your drains.

 

Garbage Disposal Do’s

DO use it regularly

Frequently using your garbage disposal will help prevent it from rusting and will keep things from getting stuck down there.

DO sharpen the blades

Small chicken bones and fish bones are good for keeping your garbage disposal blades sharp. Running these items through the disposal will help clean grease and other debris from the inside walls of the unit as well. Ice cubes are also a good option for keeping your disposal blades nice and sharp.

DO remember that size matters

How you put things into your garbage disposal and how much you put in your garbage disposal is just as important as what you put in there. To keep your disposal running smoothly and to avoid clogging, just remember to toss your larger food pieces in the trash or chop them up small enough so that the disposal can grind them more easily.

DO flush the disposal every time you use it

Any time you have your garbage disposal running you should have your water running. It is also best to continue running the water for 15 seconds (or more) after the disposal is done grinding so that the water can flush the food down the drain.

DO clean it

Running a little dish soap through your disposal and flushing it with cold water for about 15 seconds after each use should keep your garbage disposal nice and clean. Freezing vinegar in ice cube trays and placing the frozen cubes in the disposal while it runs with cold water will also clean your disposal.

If you are looking for a more heavy-duty clean you can let 1/4 cup of baking soda sit overnight in your disposal, then in the morning (or a few hours later) pour vinegar into the garbage disposal. The combination should bubble and clean the inside of the unit for you.

DO know when to get help from an expert

If you are still having garbage disposal problems, it may be time to call the professionals at Eastern Plumbing. We are available 24/7 for your plumbing emergencies; just give us a call at 252-758-7579 for Greenville, NC and surrounding areas or at 252-514-0002 for New Bern, NC and surrounding areas.

DIY – Emergency Plumbing Solutions

An emergency plumbing situation can occur at anytime of any day. Knowing how to fix urgent plumbing problems in advance is the best way to come up with solutions at the time of an emergency. Knowing how to spot potential plumbing problems can also help you determine whether you will be facing an emergency plumbing situation in the near future. Learn how to prepare and temporarily fix your next emergency plumbing crisis until the professionals are called in.

 

What You Need On Hand:

You never know what emergency plumbing situation you will find yourself in, which is why you must always stay prepared and have these items ready to go in case you spring a leak (or any other plumbing emergency mishap occurs).

  • Use a bucket as your ‘emergency plumbing tool holder.’ If you spring a leak mid-project, it will catch the water and help keep your home nice and dry.
  • Keep heavy duty paper towels or old towels/rags in your ‘emergency plumbing tool kit’ to clean up whatever your bucket doesn’t catch or water from small leaks.
  • Wrenches, wrenches, wrenches – wrenches are an essential tool of any plumber. A pair of medium sized slip joint pliers and an adjustable wrench should cover most jobs. However, it never hurts to have other various sized wrenches ready to go as well.
  • A multi-bit screwdriver is the perfect ‘emergency plumbing tool.’ It is versatile and can help reduce the number of tools in your ‘emergency plumbing tool kit.’
  • Keep a forced cup plunger and a regular plunger handy. Each plunger has its own specific use and provides extra unclogging power!
  • Duct tape and/or leak sealing tape can help out in a plumbing emergency until a permanent fix can be made.
  • Wire coat hangers are a household item that every amateur plumber should keep handy.

Emergency Tips

When it comes to emergency plumbing situations it’s not enough to just have the right tools to take on the job, you have to know a thing or two about how to handle the situation too. These tips will prepare you for your next emergency plumbing crisis.

  • If a pipe bursts, turn off the water supply. While you wait for a professional to arrive and remedy the situation, drain the entire system by turning on all the cold water taps in the house and flushing the toilets. Next, turn your water heater off and turn on all the hot water taps and drain them out as well. When there is no more running tap water, the leak will stop.
  • Use two wrenches at once, turning in opposite directions. This absorbs the stress from the plumbing when tightening or loosening a plumbing fitting.
  • If the water in a clogged toilet keeps rising every time you flush, take a wire coat hanger and bend it into a curved shape and try to remove the blockage inside the toilet bowl. Once you have loosened the blockage, try using a forced cup plunger to fully unclog the toilet. Unclogging a toilet with rising water can be messy job. Be sure to use old towels and rags on the floor to keep the bathroom from getting wet and slippery.
  • Use duct tape or pipe sealing tape to pull together a crack in a pipe. The tape will reduce the leak as a temporary solution.
  • When unclogging the sink or garbage disposal in the kitchen, make sure to turn off the switch for the disposal before trying to unclog or clean it. First, use a long spoon handle or tongs to clean out the fragments of leftovers. Make sure to never put your hands inside the disposal. Next, use two plungers to unclog the sink/disposal. Using a second plunger to cover the other drain will allow you to get the most force. After cleaning the disposal out and plunging the drain, turn on the hot water, turn the power on again and turn on cold water to check if the clog has been cleaned out.

These tips will help to sustain the damage until a professional plumber can be called in to make the repairs.

 

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

What You Need to Know for Your Next Bathroom Remodel

The Beatles, denim and Grease with John Travolta— just a few things that will never go out of style. It’s a shame bathrooms aren’t the same way. Years ago you may have loved the wallpaper that adorned your hall bathroom, admired the big gold fixtures on your soaker tub or smiled when you saw your pink tiled countertops. But now, not so much! Or maybe you need to add a tub where there once was a shower in order to accommodate your growing family. For whatever reason, you’ve decided it’s time to give the outdated or non-functional design a well-deserved retirement. So, now begins the remodel process. But before you get started here are a few things you should think about before “demo day.”

 

Toilets

If you’re simply changing out an old toilet for a new one, you may consider tackling this project yourself. But if plumbing is a completely new territory for you, you may want a professional to handle this one and ensure there are no leaks— and trust us bathroom leaks can be messy.

If you are moving a toilet to a new place in the bathroom, there are other things you will want to keep in mind. The first thing to consider is where there are toilet drains and toilet vents. If you move the toilet no further than 48” from the toilet vent, you won’t have to move the vent, you simply have to move the toilet drain. Also, know that the cost of moving both the toilet vent and the toilet drain can get pricey.

 

Sinks

Sinks can be tricky, not because of the installation process, but because of the number of options and varying costs. You could get a pedestal sink, a vessel sink, a wall-mounted sink; the list goes on and on. Decide what type of sink fits best in your space and what style you like the most. Don’t forget to consider if you need cabinet storage under your sink.

It is not unusual to move plumbing lines when it comes to sinks because there are so many styles of sinks. So, don’t be afraid of having to do this. This bathroom sink remodel will likely cost a few hundred dollars in addition to the cost of the sink itself.

 

Showers

When it comes to remodeling the shower, you may be presented with two options: a shower/bathtub combo or a stand-alone shower. A shower/bathtub combo will cost you between $300 and $900 for the tub and walls. For a stand-alone shower, the cost is limited only by your imagination. With this option you will get to choose the tiles, backsplash, doors, and lighting. You may also choose to add extra showerheads in the walls or ceiling.

If you’re relocating the shower, expect to pay about the same as toilet relocation. There are specific codes that plumbers must follow in order to make sure drains and vents are properly angled and securely fitted.

 

Tubs

When choosing a new bathtub, the first thing you need to decide is what general style of tub best fits your needs. Do you want a standard tub that is made for a quick bath? Or do you want a luxurious spa bath designed for soaking?

The average cost of a tub ranges from $200 to $2,000 or more. Moving bath drains and bath vents are comparable in cost to the shower and toilet.

 

If you’re considering a bathroom remodel or in the middle of your own bathroom DIY project, we would love to help.

Contact Eastern Plumbing:
With over 15 years of service experience, we have helped thousands of homeowners in Eastern, NC with their plumbing needs. Our top-notch plumbing technicians can accurately install any bathroom equipment for any renovation project you decide to tackle!

 

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.

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.

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.

7 Bad Home Plumbing Habits to Avoid

Plumbing chores are a routine household issue that everybody has to endure every now and then. Your plumbing system is critical to your home. Much like any sophisticated operation, it has rules that must be followed if you want it to run smoothly. There are some common mistakes you may not realize you are making until serious damage has occurred to your plumbing. Are you guilty of these bad home plumbing habits?

1. Leaving outside hoses connected.

A hose that is left attached to an outdoor faucet in extreme winter weather can become damaged, which may result in a leak when warmer spring weather comes. The damage usually requires a new water tap. In addition, the hose may degrade if it goes through many winter freezes.

2. Overusing drain cleaner.

Drain cleaners may seem like an effective and affordable solution to getting rid of blockages in drains if you use them carefully. When you are cleaning a drain, make sure you don’t use too much or you could corrode the drain and make the blockage worse.

3. Damaging hidden pipes.

When working on home improvement projects, don’t forget to consider where hidden plumbing pipes are located while using an electric drill, screwdriver or hammer on your drywall. If you are not careful, you can puncture a pipe, which may result in water pouring out of the wall.

4. Contaminating a septic system.

Be careful about pouring harsh chemicals or cleaner down your drain, including chlorine bleach, paint and anti-bacterial soaps. They can disrupt waste-eating bacteria in your septic tank, resulting in a sewage backup. Septic systems rely on healthy bacteria in the tank to function effectively.

5. Misusing garbage disposal.

If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you know it’s a useful appliance that makes chores less strenuous. However, disposals are not trashcans. If not maintained properly, a garbage disposal can break down, block and clog drains. Read your manufacturer’s manual to find out what is and isn’t acceptable to put in your disposal.

6. Careless use of kitchen sink.

When washing dishes, it may be tempting to pour food scraps down the sink. Oils and fats should not be poured down the drain, as they will harden as they cool and block drains. Not only will you need to call a plumber, but it will also cause a terrible smell. A sink strainer is able to prevent this from happening.

7. Improper toilet flushing.

One of the most common plumbing emergencies is a blocked toilet. Never flush feminine products, wet wipes, cotton balls or q-tips. If a waste pipe becomes blocked, this may result in other pipes in your system blocking up. Anything other than human waste and toilet paper should go in a trashcan.

The best way to avoid costly repairs is to prevent problems in the first place. Make sure you explain proper plumbing procedures to all members of your household, especially young children. If you find yourself with a plumbing problem, you can trust us at Eastern Plumbing for prompt and professional solutions.

Protect Your Property From Serious Summer Plumbing Problems

When we think of potential problems for homeowners in the summer, plumbing issues may not readily come to mind. However, the warmer months are a prime time for plumbing problems that may not occur at other times of the year. How can homeowners protect their property from serious summer plumbing problems and what particular issues should they be careful to avoid? Here are five of the most common plumbing problems that arise during the summer.

  1. Clogged Disposal: Are you having plenty of cookouts this summer? If so, you will need be careful of how you dispose of waste food. While produce may be organic, it is generally not good for your in-sink garbage disposal, particularly if you are getting rid of hard fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon or corn. These types of produce can damage the blades in your disposal unit or lead to stubborn clogs. Used cooking oils are also damaging to garbage disposal systems. Avoid pouring the dirty grease down the drain after grilling out. It is also 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.
  1. Sewer Line Backups: Certain areas of the country may be prone to summer rain showers or thunderstorms, especially as the air heats up in the afternoon. Excessive rain can get into sewer pipes through cracks and cause the sewer line to back up. You might also experience trouble if tree roots spread underground and crack the pipes. If you see any signs of sewer line trouble such as water from the toilet backing up into the bathtub drain, call a qualified plumber right away. He or she may recommend a sewer line replacement if the damage is extensive.
  1. Washing Machine Maintenance: Your washing machine may get more of a workout during the summer, especially if you have children who are out of school. Spending days at the pool or the beach results in more laundry to wash. This can put additional stress on your washing machine. It is best to stay at home while the machine is running, so that if a problem arises you can stop the cycle immediately and call a professional if needed. You should also move the machine out from the wall a little to prevent the hose from kinking.
  1. Clogged Toilets: Household toilets are also used more regularly in the summer, thanks to children using the bathroom during the day. Teach your kids to use a modest amount of toilet paper and to flush only after they actually use the bathroom. Common clogs are fairly simple to clear with a plunger, but if you need additional help, call in a professional.
  1. Sprinkler Issues: If you have sprinklers embedded in your lawn, be sure to inspect and clean the heads before the season begins. When you are mowing the lawn, be careful to do so when the sprinkler heads are lowered. This helps with avoiding damaging them.