Plumbing Tips For a Worry-Free Holiday

During the holiday season, our homes often become the hub for family and friends, but all the hustle and bustle of family gatherings and holiday parties can put a strain on your plumbing. There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water mid-shower when all the cousins are in town or a toilet getting stopped up before the ball even drops on New Year’s Eve. To avoid the issues and have a worry-free holiday remember these plumbing tips…

1. Go Easy on Your Sink

Coming together with family and friends to enjoy a holiday meal is one of the staples of the season. With Aunt Abby’s fruit cake, Uncle Tim’s ham, Grandma’s fudge and all the food in-between it’s almost impossible to clear your plate and you are bound to have some scraps. Avoid a clogged drain and an over-worked/ill-performing garbage disposal by throwing your food scraps into the regular trash and NEVER pouring grease, oil or fat down the drain.

2. Don’t Run Out of Hot Water

If you have a lot of holiday guests using your shower, your hot water could run out pretty quickly. To avoid running out of hot water mid-shower, turn up your water heater to increase its capacity to meet holiday house guest demands (we suggest not exceeding 125ºF). Spacing out the times people shower and allowing the hot water tank enough time to heat up between uses will also help ensure that everyone has plenty of hot water.

If the lack of hot water isn’t just a holiday issue, consider switching to a tankless water heater that will heat water as it is used to make things more convenient. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about running out of hot water for countless holiday seasons to come!

3. Prevent Frozen Pipes

Fitting pipes with insulation, either in sleeve form or wrapping, can help prevent them from freezing. Keeping interior cabinet doors open can also help keep your pipes warm. Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well.

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze on a bitter cold night, it is also a good precaution to allow your faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to drip will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe does become frozen, it is the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to drip will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

4. Prevent Clogged Toilets

If your toilet already seems to have a slow or weak flush, this can indicate that a clog is forming in your toilet drain. Instead of waiting until your home is filled with holiday guests and your toilet won’t flush at all, go ahead and take care of the problem (just call us). It is also a good idea to remind your holiday guests to ONLY put toilet paper in the bowl. Flushing facial tissues, wipes, napkins, paper towels, floss, coffee grounds, hair, feminine hygiene products, grease and other fats or oils, medications, plastic and diapers will only contribute to more clogging.

Remember these plumbing tips to avoid issues and have a worry-free holiday AND if a holiday plumbing emergency does occur, don’t forget that you can always call Eastern Plumbing we’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency!

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.

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.

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.