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Friday, January 30, 2015

7 things plumbers do not want you to know

Household plumbing tips
Pipe insulation affects pipe freeze temperatures
By Charlie Teschner

Plumbers offer homeowners valuable services that can save the homeowners a lot of money in the future. But plumbers also need your business in order to stay in business, and there are some repairs and preventative measures that you can handle yourself. Some plumbers might not tell you that, though, because DIY work cuts into what they can earn. Here are seven things a plumber won't tell you about.

Jammed garbage disposals

Most of the time, a jammed disposal is due to something very basic, such as dried food making the parts stick together. If this happens to you, look under your sink for a large Allen wrench or hex wrench or go to a hardware store and get one for very little money. The wrench fits in a socket under the motor for the disposal; hold a mirror under the disposal to look for the socket in the center of the underside. Fit the wrench in the socket and jiggle it a bit. If you see a red button near the socket -- with the button popped out -- press that in. 

Smelly garbage disposals

You don't need to replace your disposal or have plumbers do a deep cleaning on it if you start to smell something awful. Chop up some lemon peels and make some small ice cubes. Put small batches of the peel and ice into the disposal and run the motor. Don't over stuff the disposal. 

Clogged drains

Baking soda and vinegar really do work. You might have to make a few passes with this mixture, but you can get slow drains moving faster and unclog drains blocked by the general crud that builds up over time. Add a bunch of baking soda to the drain, add about a cup of vinegar, and cover the drain quickly so that the foaming action presses back down into the drain. After a half hour or so, drop hot water into the drain. Keep repeating this until the drain finally frees up.

Old showerheads

If you need to change an old showerhead, you can do that yourself in a few minutes. This is a simple fix that does not require a plumber at all. Get a wrench, some tissue or a cloth to protect the showerhead from scratches caused by the wrench, and some plumber's tape, which should be included with the new showerhead. These are all available for reasonable prices at your local hardware or big box store.

Swimming pool pipe leaks

Sometimes the water level in your pool seems to drop dramatically, but that doesn't always mean you have a leak. A lot of the time, it's just evaporation. Get a good pool cover and see if that helps.

Check the license

Licensing varies by state, so always check the license requirements for plumbers before hiring one. You want to be sure the license they have is proper for the area you're in.

Drip your faucets

If you just moved to a new area, check with your neighbors about whether you need to drip your faucets when there's a freeze forecast. Some areas have well-insulated pipes, but other places require you to open the faucets a bit if the temperature will drop below freezing.

About the author: Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Boulder, CO heating repair.

Image license: OpenClips/Pixabay; US-PD