Categories Residential Plumbing

How to clean your smelly garbage disposal

It should be no surprise that your garbage disposal becomes smelly and clogged with constant use.  The good news is there are ways to keep your garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh using common household items.

As the food is grinded up in your disposal, many of these food particles stick to the walls and flywheel of your disposal. These organic particles decay just as they would in your garbage can. This rotten decaying food is the awful smell so many disposals emit. Below are three home remedies that are sure to work, start with the first and work your way to the bottom of this list.

#1.  Fill your garbage disposer with ice cubes, then install the stopper and fill the sink with warm soapy water. Remove the stopper and turn on your disposer. This should loosen the food particles and wash them away with warm water.

#2.  If soapy water doesn’t do the trick, you may need something with a little more punch.  Instead of ice cubes, pour ½ cup of baking soda into the disposal, install the stopper, add 1 cup of vinegar. Remove the stopper and turn on the disposer with cold water running. This solution is very good at removing mineral deposits and destroying bacteria.

#3.  If #1 and #2 didn’t work, this is sure to solve the problem. Warning, this procedure should be performed by a professional if you feel you are not capable.  Remove the drain line, Install rubber stopper to drain line.  Add ½ cup of powdered oxygen bleach and plenty of warm water. Let this solution sit for several minutes. Drain solution into a bucket and reattach plumbing and run lots of warm water.

Running a few ice cubes weekly with lots of warm water will keep the walls and flywheel of your disposer clean, the ice cubes also knock rust from the flywheel preventing the most common disposal problem, ( jammed flywheel) .  Stainless steel models are a cost effective upgrade if you are replacing your disposal. Stainless steel models do not rust and stay cleaner with less maintenance.

Categories Residential Plumbing

The amazing sewer popper, $35.00 worth of sewer back up protection.

hose of you who have had a sewer back up may know the value of this product. This is the amazing sewer popper. During a mainline sewer back up, the top to this simply floats up letting the sewer water dump out into your yard, not your house.  Over the years as an emergency plumber, I have seen some horrible sewer overflows. I have literally walked into homes with 1 inch of sewer water covering the floors and carpets.

During a mainline sewage back-up, the sewage has nowhere to go.  The lines under your home begin to fill with sewage unknown to you. How does this happen?  A clog occurs in your mainline while the washer machine is draining. Your washer machine has a pump that pumps water weather it has somewhere to go or not.  It fills your clogged lines beneath your floor until it finally pours out of a low level shower.  Can this be avoided? Yes, during this exact same situation, a sewer popper installed on your mainline cleanout would have released the sewage in your yard. This product doesn’t prevent the problem, just limits the amount of damage.

You simply unscrew your current mainline sewer cleanout and screw this in its place, no plumber required. If the sewer backs-up, the top floats off relieving the pressure. This product is the Jones Stephens Corporations part number s62-304. It installs on 3 or 4 inch cleanouts. If your sewer never backs-up, it’s a waste of money, if your sewer backs-up, it’s priceless.

Categories Commercial Plumbing, Residential Plumbing

Want to be a plumber? Best place to learn the trade.

A phrase I heard many times while serving in the United States military was, “You’re trained to be better than your civilian counterpart.”  Is this true? Does the military offer a better training program than the civilian world?  I can only lend my opinion for the plumbing apprenticeship program, but yes.

The United States military likes to say they are sending the finest America has to offer into battle.  This is another saying I heard many times but only realized the truth after I separated. Most military training programs are modeled after successful civilian programs.  Every few years, the military searches for the best civilian training programs. Then, they improve it, suit it to their needs, and begin training our troops. Military plumbers are being trained under circumstances where profit is not the sole purpose of training.  They are being trained for the knowledge, while civilian plumbers are being trained by a company that may not have the time or patience to train on less profitable areas. I was trained to repair plumbing products until they could not be repaired. Only then was it acceptable to replace it.  To do this, you had to have a deep understanding of how that product works; its every moving part and function.  Military trainers took the time to explain how every product works.  In the civilian program, you’re trained for profit; plumbers are trained to replace the product with no real understanding of how to fix it. In the end it makes the company more money so why repair it? The armed services trains for all aspects of plumbing including residential, commercial, new construction, remodel, repair, fire suppression, backflow testing, waste water treatment, and water distribution. In a civilian training program, you will receive what that company specializes in or offers to its customers. The civilian plumber may be better trained at this particular part of plumbing but has not received the same diverse knowledge of the military plumber.

After going through the military training program and watching the civilian program in action, I can say there is no comparison. Some of the best, most knowledgeable plumbers I have ever met were during my time in the armed services.  If I had a son or daughter interested in the trades at the end of high school, I would recommend enlisting in the United States military to receive the best training our country has to offer.

Categories Commercial Plumbing, Residential Plumbing

Choosing the right plumbing contractor

Choosing the right plumbing contractor can be easy if you follow a few simple tips. A good place to start is to choose three companies and get estimates. Be sure to include at least one local company. Choosing three large corporate owned companies may leave you with a false perception of what the going rate is. Then, go to myfloridalicense.com and look to see if these contractors hold a valid plumbing license. Ask to see a copy of their insurance. Most plumbing contractors will have a 1 million dollar per occurrence policy. New plumbing parts do fail, we install the parts, not manufacturer them. From the three estimates you should have a good idea of what the high and low rates are for your project. From here it is up to you. I know the cheapest could save you some hard earned money but they are usually in the business of being the cheapest. They will commonly use inferior products and rush through your project to get it done faster. We are talking about the services here in Southwest Florida, not retail. When you buy a retail product from Walmart, you get the same product with the same warranty at a better price, here cheaper is better. With contractor services, cheaper usually gets you less of a service or bad customer service after the sale. Your high estimate will most likely come from a large corporate owned company or franchise. They have more overhead and may have a hard time competing with the locals.

Once you have chosen a plumbing contractor, ensure they are obtaining permits for your project and that the company license holder will oversee the project. Here in Southwest Florida, a licensed plumbing contractor can legally hire unlicensed technicians to work under his license. Some of these companies will send all un-licensed technicians and never check on your project. There are competent un-licensed technicians here but the company is only as good as the technician they send you. If you’re going to hire a licensed professional, get a licensed professional.

Categories Residential Plumbing

The importance of your water heaters temperature and pressure relief valve

Some of the earliest water heaters were not equipped with a temperature and pressure relief valve. These manufactures soon realized just how dangerous a water heater can be without one. During a catastrophic tank failure these early water heaters were literally shooting through the roof like a missile. Not to worry, all modern day water heaters are now equipped with a temperature and pressure relief valve. The T&P valve is a small brass valve usually located at the top middle section of your water heater. It is a safety valve designed to relieve pressures above 150 psi and temperatures above 210 degrees. During a catastrophic tank failure, your T&P valve would automatically open relieving the pressure. This ensures your water heater stays where it was installed. This can still make a mess if your T&P valve is not piped to the outside but usually will not involve anyone getting hurt. We have encountered homeowners in the past who have capped this valve off or connected a garden hose to the T&P to wash down the garage. If your T&P valve has a small drip, contact a professional to inspect your water heater and replace your T&P valve. Although capping off this valve stopped the leak, it created a much more dangerous problem.