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Yes, though it is very easy. Generally, the biggest issue with garbage disposals is what NOT to put through them. Consult the manual for your disposal, but as a rule, disposing of animal fat or bones is harmful to the disposal, its blades and the pipes connected to them. Other items sure to harm your garbage disposal include:

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• Pits
• Shellfish shells
• Coffee grounds
• Pasta
• Uncooked oatmeal
• Nuts
• Onion skins
• Egg shells
• Celery, pumpkins and other fibrous vegetables
• Corn husks
• Potato skins
• Paint
Another helpful but little-known trick is to run ice through the grinder occasionally. The ice actually helps to sharpen the blades as it is chopped up. This can help extend the life of your garbage disposal. You can learn more about kitchen plumbing services here or call us at 352-728-6053.

Water-heater-pressure-relief-valve Ask a PlumberStandard, tank-type, water heaters require very little maintenance, and it is quick and easy to do. Not staying current with your water heater maintenance makes the unit less efficient and robs you of the full comfort it should provide.

The most important thing is to find the pressure release valve, which probably looks like this photo.

We recommend toggling this back and forth about once a year to make sure it operates smoothly. If it sticks, a little lubricant can help. If it is frozen in place, it is vital to contact us for service. As water heats, it expands. This simple valve keeps your water heater from building up too much pressure. Unfortunately, if this small part fails, it could conceivably lead to a catastrophic tank rupture or pipe burst, and force you to replace your water heater entirely.

Drain-water-heater-300x225 Ask a PlumberBecause we have lots of minerals (particularly iron and lime) in central Florida, sediment builds up in the bottom of the tank. This can reduce both the efficiency and the life expectancy of the water heater. We recommend draining a few gallons from the bottom of the tank into a bucket, or by running a hose outside, about every three months. Once the water runs clear, the sediment has largely been purged from the tank.

Together, these two quick and easy steps can help to ensure a long life for your water heater. You can learn all about water heaters here or call us at 352-728-6053.

Know where your shut off valve is well beforehand. First, stop the flow of water to prevent further water damage to your home and property. You do not need to wait for a plumber to arrive to do this! For decades, all new Florida homes have been required to have shut-off valves installed on the line from the water main into your home. Somewhere on your property (usually near the road) is a covered box that may look something like one of these.

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Under the cover, you will most likely find a pipe with a piece like this in the middle of it.

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Remember, this is Florida. Be careful if your shut-off valve is in the ground. Water collects there, especially after storms and heavy rains. That makes a great habitat for snakes and other things that like to bite. Take precautions.

The valve on top rotates 90 degrees. You want to twist it so it is perpendicular to the pipe, as shown above. This should stop the flow of water from your water supply to the house. Other valves resemble hose bibs and operate in the same way. Once you have shut off the water to the house, go inside and turn on the faucets to drain any remaining water from the pipes. If you have done everything correctly, it will take anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes for the water to drain and the flow of water from your open faucets to stop. Click here for more on emergency plumbing, or call us at 352-728-6053 for prompt help.

The next step is to determine where the leak originated. Because water flows downhill, and the things behind walls and under flooring are not always level, water can travel a surprising distance before being detected. We specialize in leak detection and can help you identify what and where your problem is. For more on water leak detection, click here or call us at 352-728-6053.

Who wouldn’t want to spend winter in Florida? As pleasant as your winters here are, living here part-time comes with special concerns. With your part-time home unoccupied for six or more months of the year, you may want to devote your first few days to settling in and the last few to making sure your second home will be ready for your return.

Being away from that home for so much time, you may find it easy to ignore the plumbing system. Just like so many other things, plumbing is easy to ignore when it functions as it should. Due to central Florida’s rapid growth, most homes have “newer” pipes and plumbing systems. Unlike back up north, frozen pipes are rare.

That doesn’t mean snowbirds don’t have special plumbing concerns, and it doesn’t mean Florida doesn’t present certain challenges to maintaining a functional plumbing system. Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Shut off the valve – Regardless of where you live, shut off the main water valve to the house when you plan to be gone for an extended period of time. An undetected leak can lead to massive damage if you are away from the home for weeks or months at a time. Shutting off the water valve will prevent this from happening. Learn how to shut off the valve here (question below).
  • Drain your water heater – Because of the high mineral content in central Florida’s water, it is wise to drain sediment from the bottom of your water heater a few times a year. Lean how to drain sediment from the water heater here (question below)
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    Adjust your irrigation – Adjust your irrigation heads before leaving for the summer. Again, our water if mineral-rich. This can leave rust stains on your house and other items where your irrigation heads spray water all summer, and you can return to a two-toned home.

  • Special anti-freezing consideration – Normally, Florida does not experience freezes, and virtually every pipe in your home is safe from freezing. Because freezes are so rare, many systems are not rated for sustained temperatures in the 20s, and this can lead to burst pipes or malfunctioning valves. When the forecast calls for a freeze, be especially careful with exposed pipes outside. If there is a freeze, they will freeze first. Leaving an outdoor spigot running, just a trickle, will be a big help. It is important to know your system and make the manufacturer’s recommended preparations in case of the rare freeze.
  • Get help from a friend – Arrange for a friend or neighbor to periodically check on your home. Strange things happen that are unforeseeable, and an ounce of prevention/early detection can be worth pounds of cure later.

 

Those are a small portion of the problems our residential service department deals with every day, throughout The Villages, Leesburg, Fruitland Park and so many other central Florida communities where our snowbirds stay for the chilly months.

Ugly-faucet-300x200 Ask a PlumberMost people don’t realize that they should never use harsh or abrasive soaps/detergents to wash their faucets, because it can damage the finish. Souring pads have also been proven to damage the finish of faucets. It’s best to use a soft, wet rag to wipe down the faucet, without any soaps at all. This will keep the finish shiny and looking beautiful. You can learn more about maintenance and installation of bathroom fixtures here or call us at 352-728-6053.

Garbage-Disposal Ask a PlumberIf you have a foul smell coming from your garbage disposal unit, then you most likely have food stuck somewhere in the system. The food can be in the garbage disposal, in the drain or deeper down in the pipes. Sometimes, particular food types (meat bones or fruit pits, for instance) aggravate this problem. In a worst case scenario, it is possible that the smell is sewage backing up into the pipes. The first thing to do is have the garbage disposal checked for food, and if necessary, have the disposal unit dismantled.

It may be necessary to get the drains cleaned to get rid of the smell completely. Garbage disposal units that have slight smells even when there is no clog or food present can receive a generous treatment of lime juice, lemon juice, and/or vinegar to make it smell better. A slight but persistent smell, one without a clog, is easily treated. A generous helping of lime juice or lemon juice and vinegar will freshen it up nicely. If you need something stronger, there are also a number of chemicals made for just that purpose. You can learn more about kitchen plumbing services here or call us at 352-728-6053.

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