One of the benefits of being in business for so long is the amount of trade tips and tricks you discover over the years. Now, many plumbers may feel it’s better to keep these little tips close to the vest, but at Vanguard we believe that everyone should have access to the most basic of tricks for maintaining a healthy plumbing and sewer system. In the end, we feel it’s our civic duty to pass along a bit of insider knowledge to ensure every customer we may potentially help has not been led down the wrong road by less-than-reputable service technicians.
All of the pros at Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer have years of on-the-job experience – not to mention solid skills training they bring to each task. And, don’t forget, they use the very same tips we’re going to share with you every single day on the job. So, let’s take a look at a few pearls of plumbing wisdom starting with faucets and sinks.
Faucets & Sinks: The best tip for keeping your sinks and faucets in peak working condition is by checking for leaks regularly. You should take a good look (or feel) underneath the sink and around the seals where it’s resting on the vanity. If you feel moisture, you need to repair it immediately. Water doesn’t take long, or much, to cause some serious problems and the damage isn’t cheap to repair, so be proactive and it’ll save you money. Remember to check your aerators each month to ensure they’re not blocked by debris. Your aerators are the small metal mesh screens located at the opening of all your faucets. Just unscrew the metal housing nozzle and clean the aerator then replace it and you’re finished. Oh, and check the overflow holes on your sinks and tubs, too. Sometimes objects get lodged in them and block water from exiting the bowl. That could spell disaster, so play it safe and check once every month or so. You’ll thank us when you find something.
Water Heaters: The very best tip for water heaters that we can give you is to not touch them unless the power is completely shut off first. Seriously, this is no joke. Water heaters have the potential to be the most dangerous appliance in your home if not treated with care and caution. If you’re the least bit unsure, you should contact a service professional – such as those at Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer – to handle the routine maintenance and repairs for you. It’s better to be safe and your house to remain standing than any of the alternatives, right? Okay. We agree on that, so let’s talk about draining your tank every three months. See, sediment from the water in the tank builds up over time and can reduce efficiency and simply draining the water from the bottom of the tank every 90 days will solve the problem before it starts. It’s a good idea, since you’re already looking at the water heater, to check the flame the burner is producing to ensure the color is right. It should be obviously blue with yellow tips. If it’s yellow or you see any amount of soot buildup, you should call Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer right away. It could be a dangerous situation if the flue is clogged. You should have us out once a year for an inspection to have a set of professional eyes guarantee you’re not headed for trouble. Again, it’s safety first and last.
Dishwasher: Everyone who uses a dishwasher knows they can save a ton of time spent over the sink (and who doesn’t like that?), but they can and do get a bit unappealing to look at when used frequently. The racks on the inside are especially susceptible to scale and discoloration – basically food stains. That’s a bit disgusting for most, but, thankfully, there’s a very simple solution you can use to rid your appliance of unsightly stains. Just put some lime deposit remover into the soap tray and run the dishwasher with it set to heat dry. Voila! Your stain issue is nothing but an unpleasant memory. By the way, never overload your dishwasher. It won’t clean properly so it’s just wasting water.
Toilets: The first thing most people think of when they think of plumbing is the toilet. Sometimes, as plumbers, we’re unsure exactly how to feel about that – moving on. Your toilet is one of the most important pieces of furniture in your house. It’s a seat that everyone shares and, without it, things are going to get messy. Nobody, and we mean nobody, wants that. So, take care of your toilet by checking it regularly for leaks. Not only will this prevent your commode from mechanical issues, it can potentially save you big money. Toilets can very quickly leak a ton of water from the tank into the bowl and you’ll never even realize it’s happening. To check, simply add a drop of food coloring to the tank and periodically check the bowl. If any of the color has made its way from the tank to the bowl, you’ve got a problem. Try replacing the tank ball to fix the issue, or just give Vanguard a call and we’ll take care of it for you. One more note – never put chlorine tablets in the tank of your toilet. Chlorine and rubber do not get along well and you’ll end up with leaks everywhere the rubber meets the road – or porcelain in this case.
Clogged Drains: The best tip we can provide for dealing with clogs is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Yes, we know that sounds arrogant – and we totally don’t mean it to – it’s just that prevention is the only surefire way to fix a clog without calling in the professionals. Our suggestion is simple and super inexpensive to utilize to full effect – drain strainers. Even from here, we can see you all scratching your heads, but, believe it or not, it’s exactly what it sounds like. They’re miniature strainers that fit in the drain and catch all the hairs and debris that would otherwise end up in the bend of your pipes causing trouble. Another simple way to avoid problems is to never, ever put fats down your sink – cooking oil either. Don’t use caustic cleaners in your sink when it’s backed up. Liquid Plumber is not a fix for a completely clogged drain. Those substances cause damage inside your pipes and cost more than they save in the long run. If you can’t snake your sink yourself, contact Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer immediately and let the pros handle it.
Garbage Disposal: For those of us lucky enough to have one, a garbage disposal is a revelation in food scrap handling. Gone are the days of plastic wrap and praying the possums didn’t get into the cans. No, when you have a disposal in your sink, all you have to do is drop scraps in and the waste disappears. It’s nearly magic – except it’s not. In fact, it’s just flushed down to be dealt with at the municipal water facility in your city. The magic of the system is its ability to break down waste to manageable pieces that the system can handle. It eliminates those pesky garbage issues and allows for instant gratification in terms of cleaning up after dinner. Our first nifty tip is for keeping those blades in your disposal sharp. Just take a handful of ice cubes and drop them down then light the garbage disposal up. Add a bit of baking soda to the ice cubes to negate that awful smell that can sometimes emanate from the darkness. Remember, if you want your disposal to last, never use caustic substances in it, don’t grind heavy items like bones or corn husks, and use cold water when running it whenever possible. If it stops working, check under the sink on the disposal housing for the reset button, or look in your fuse box to make sure a breaker didn’t pop. If neither solves the problem, call the professionals at Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer immediately at (773) 633-6139.