Pet Proof Your Plumbing

Pet Proof Your Plumbing

It's not very common to associate your family pet with plumbing.

Pets can bring joy and love to your family, and it’s hard to believe that they might cause an issue to your plumbing system.

When it comes to your family pets’ bath time or drinking water, there are a few essential tips to keeping your pipes safe.

Tips On How To Maintain and Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is an invaluable kitchen appliance. Having a garbage disposal is beneficial to your kitchen, our environment and your plumbing. However, shredding up all those food scraps to keep your drains and pipes clean over time can make for a smelly sink and ultimately your kitchen and home. Ideally, you should clean your garbage disposal once a week to keep your disposal working properly and your kitchen smelling fresh. Cleaning your disposal doesn’t have to be as labor intensive as you might think. There are a number of things you can do to maintain and clean your garbage disposal.

How to clean the disposal itself

  • Use hot water to flush out your garbage disposal. This can help remove any loose grunge and grime. Adding some dish soap to the hot water rinse will facilitate a deeper clean.

  • Use ice cubes and salt to remove the tougher grime that have stubbornly attached itself to the grinding components. In addition to cleaning benefit, grinding ice will also sharpen the disposals blades and remove undesirable odors.

  • Manually scrub the inner walls of the disposal. Professionals, like those at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. also suggest using an old toothbrush or a long handled brush. However, before you initiate this cleaning process, you should always make sure that the power to the appliance is disconnected. Typically, its plugged into the wall under the sink. However, the disposal’s electrical connection can also be disconnected on your homes electrical panel. Test the disposal switch to confirm the power is off.

Clean the sink splash guard

In addition to the disposal itself, it is important not to forget to clean your sinks’ splash guard. The splash guard, or the rubber flaps in the drain, prevent food particles and liquid from splashing back into the sink when the disposal is running. The underside of the guard often gets covered with food bits that can rot. People often forget to clean this essential part of their disposal, and it can easily be cleaned with a good ole toothbrush, soap and hot water. As always, before cleaning this, make sure the power to your disposal is off.

Eliminating odors From your disposal

After thoroughly cleaning your disposal there are a few ways to get it smelling clean and fresh.

  • A combination of baking soda and vinegar is an effective deodorizer. While running hot water into disposal, add a half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then add a half a cup of white vinegar, and let the mixture sit for five to ten minutes. Once this time is up, flush with the running drain with hot or boiling water. Many people call this the volcano method, as this fizzy mixture your kids use to make exploding volcanoes in their science class!

  • Some people might recommend using bleach to clean your disposal, however, professionals will disagree. Using bleach, drain cleaner, or other harsh chemicals can damage your blades and your pipes. Alternatively, Borax is a natural cleaning product that is a safer substitute to clean your disposal and minimize odors.

Maintaining your clean garbage disposal

Once your garbage disposal has been thoroughly cleaned, it is important to maintain its polish and sparkle. As previously stated, it is recommended that you clean your disposal once a week. In addition, it is crucial to remember that your disposal is not a trash can. You should only be putting biodegradable food items in your garbage disposal. There are several items you should avoid putting in your garbage disposal:

  • Extremely fibrous foods such as corn husk, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes- the fibers can tangle in the disposals’ blades, jam, and block drains

  • Potato peels- the starches in the potatoes will turn into a thick paste and may cause your disposals blades to stick

  • Grease, oil, or fat - these items can clog your drain and hinder its grinding ability

  • Fruit pits- disposal blades are strong, however not strong enough to cut through these items

  • Pasta and rice- once you add water to these items they will expand inside your pipes and cause clogs

  • Large animal bones- they will continue to spin around with the blades and never make it down the pipes

  • Coffee Grounds- they can accumulate in drains and pipes and cause clogs

  • Egg Shells- the shells membrane lining can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the blades

Call a plumbing professional when all else fails

These are general cleaning and maintenance tips for your garbage disposal. If you try these basic cleaning methods, and the annoying stench in your sink persists, you can always contact the professionals at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. to help with your garbage disposal and other plumbing needs.

Six Ways to Stop Wasting Water with your Washing Machine

Your washing machine is a heavy user-of energy and water! As one of the larger and more frequently used appliances in our homes, it takes up significant space on the monthly bills. Newer model washing machines use about 13 gallons per load on the average clothes wash. Older models could be using up to 40 gallons per load! If you have a large family, that’s a lot of dirty socks and shirts that may need multiple loads to get it all done. There are a variety of water saving tips to help save you time, money and energy. Before you throw your next load of laundry in the washer, check out these six ways to stop wasting water with your washing machine.

Use less water

That may seem like a no-brainer but it’s harder than one might think. If you have an older washing machine at home, there is a chance it is less economic than a newer model. Higher efficiency washing machines are designed to be more conservative while being highly efficient. Newer models may also come with a load-sensing feature. These are very convenient for hassle free water saving. The load-sensing feature automatically adjusts the amount of water for each load based on its weight.

Don’t overstuff the washer

It may seem like there is enough room to wash your whites and colors at the same time, but we advise against it!  Overloading your washing machine could cause damage to the drum and lower its efficiency. It is best to give enough room for the dirty laundry to move around inside the washer. The water needs to be able to properly reach all the clothes and drain correctly afterwards.

Wash colors in cold water

Whites need warm water to maintain their color. Dark colors, however, could use a colder wash. This colder setting for a load of colors will save water and energy. It will also keep their color from fading.

Check for leaks

Where leaks are concerned it’s best to get the professionals involved. The professionals at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. are here to help. Have them take a thorough look into the details of the machine. Checking for leaky or loose hoses, pumps, or worn out tubing is an important step in saving water. They could be causing damage and demanding more water to make up for it. Save your machine’s life expectancy and save water by taking preventative measures.

Invest in a new washing machine

If you were thinking about a new machine, now may be the time. Here is a good tip to save water and energy in the future. High-efficiency, front-loading clothes washers can use as little as 13 gallons of water per load. That’s three times less water than an older, inefficient machine, which could use up to 40 gallons on average.

If you do laundry once a week, you could save 1,404 gallons of water using a high efficiency, front-loading clothes washer. That is a lot of water!

Wear clothes twice

You don’t really need to wash that shirt you only wore for an hour to the store. It can wait to be washed! It is all right to wear those pair of jeans twice.

Saving water is a matter of a few adjustments to your machine loads. Every gallon of water saved is less stress on your next round of water and energy bills. Be sure to check those leaks and remember to call the plumbing professionals at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. for all your plumbing needs.

Pet Proof Your Plumbing-Keeping Your Pet and Your Plumbing Safe

Any pet owner knows, pets and plumbing systems aren’t always the best of friends. Pipes and protruding wires are their chew toys and toilet bowls their personal water fountain. Yet what may seem playful is actually dangerous to your furry friend’s health and to the  lifespan of your plumbing system. Here are some tips to pet proof your plumbing-helping to keep both your pet and your plumbing safe.

Tip #1- Keep the toilet lid down

Many times we see a dog drinking from the toilet bowl as a comic trope. Curious as they are, they are always getting into things they shouldn’t. Your toilet bowl definitely being one of those. By lapping up bowl water, they may be getting into harmful chemicals and cleaners. Bleachers may leave residue, which can affect a pet’s health overtime. Leave your toilet lid down, and perhaps bathroom doors closed.

Tip #2 - Give your pets a bath outside

Getting your fuzz balls into the tub is both cute and quite funny, and some pets even find it refreshing! Your pipes, on the other hand, may not see it that way. As much as your dogs love dirt, your pipes hate it. Allowing clumps of fur and dirt to go down the drain could cause some serious damage in due time. It would only take a few doggy baths to harm your draining system. A drain cover may be a good start for the smaller fellows. Covers catch dirt and debris along with hair and fur, making for an easy clean up and leaving your pipes relieved. For larger and furier dogs, however, the outdoor hose may have to do the trick. With plenty of space to leave a mess, you won’t have to worry about causing pipe damage. The sun for natural drying is also a nice bonus!

Tip #3-Watch those digging paws

What could be under your yard that is so interesting? Only your dog knows the answer to that one. What may interest YOU, however, is that your sewage pipes are only 18 inches or so under the ground. Once Fido finds the spot, only a few digs will unearth your big pipes. Teeth and claws meeting steel could cause damage to both parties. Leaks and minor damage could become a costly inconvenience. Your pet is also at  risk of getting hurt and having to make a trip to the vet. Watch your diggers! It’s cute until it’s costly.

Tip #4 - Keep plenty of clean water on standby

Help keep your furry friends happy and healthy. Ensure you and your best friend are both drinking clean water and have plenty at hand. Stay hydrated from a safe source. Having clean water waiting may steer Fido away from the porcelain bowl. Keeping the lid down and doors closed will definitely be discouraging.

Small adjustment throughout the home can make your plumbing pet friendly and your home a safer place to roam. However, if your pet and your plumbing do have an issue, the plumbing professionals at Linthicum Plumbing are just a phone call away.

How to Prepare Your Home to Save Water and Money This Fall

Taking on the fall weather in Maryland means gearing up and expecting cooler temperatures. Keeping warm may be nice for us, but what about our environment? Warm showers, hot cocoa and spooky movies all sound fun, but could add up over the autumn months. Taking preventative measures going into the new season could save you on your next energy bill. Even better than that! By preparing your existing plumbing, you can reduce your carbon footprint. “Going Green” is as simple as making a few simple observations and adjustments. While solar panels and electric cars may be a good, eco-friendly investments, we aren’t asking you to go quite that far! So how do you prepare your home to save water and money this fall?

Start by learning terms such as “carbon footprint”

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity. It can refer to a broad measure or to an individual, family, household, event, nation, etc. It is usually measured as tons of CO2 emitted per year. Again, while planting trees and taking public transportation are great ways to reduce your footprint, there are beginner steps to take  by preparing your home.

Check your existing water pipes for leaks

Household leaks waste 10,000 gallons of water per year, and one leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day. By getting a professional plumber (like those at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Inc. )involved early, you could save money in the long run. Checking for leaks and cracks in your piping early on will allow for measures to be taken before the cold weather sets in. Minimizing water waste is a sure way to help your home and planet. Checking correct pipe size will also reduce leaks. By ensuring everything is tight, you will be ready to take on the cold!

Insulate your existing pipes

Due to rapidly dropping temperatures, freezing pipes and water heater issues often occur during the wintertime, especially if you have copper piping. A common storage place for pipes or a water heater is in the basement, where they become more susceptible to the cold. With the water taking longer to heat up, and losing heat to homes fixtures, pipes are vulnerable once the cold weather hits. Insulating your pipes with wraps will help prevent heat loss, cutting down on water and energy usage. Keep the heat in the hot water, where it’s supposed to be.

Invest in low flow features for your plumbing fixtures

If you were thinking about a new shower head or toilet, now may be the time. Replacing an old model of any appliance may mean getting to upgrade for a modern more  energy efficient one. Low-flow features reduce the flow of water at the plumbing fixture to reduce water usage. Easy to install and inexpensive, minimizing water use through the aid of fixtures is a sure way to make your home eco-friendly.

Set timers to minimize water usage

Of course our washing machines come with a timer. But what about everything else? If you have an irrigation system be sure to have it run on a timed schedule. By doing this it will water your lawn efficiently and in less time. Take this technique indoors as well and set a timer for yourself in the shower or in the tub. By being mindful of your water usage, you’ll save money and help the environment.

“Going Green” does not mean losing green. It can actually save you money and help your home stay warm and happy this season. Still need help with how to prepare your plumbing for cooler weather? Click here for additional information and assistance with all your plumbing needs.

Is Your Sump Pump Ready for Stormy Weather?

Water can cause significant damage, so a sump pump can be critical to protecting your home. This is especially true for homes in flood-prone areas. If you have a sump pump, you probably rarely think about it.  It’s one of those home purchases that isn’t terribly exciting. It sits in that dark corner of your basement, unnoticed.  It doesn’t get much attention until it isn’t working properly. A sump pump’s ability to keep your basement dry depends first on your pump selection.  How well you maintain your sump pump predicts how effective it will be when weather strikes. As the rainy or hurricane season approaches, many homeowners remember to clean out their gutters and drains.  They buy batteries and water. However, it’s also important to ask, is your sump pump ready for stormy weather?

Do I have the correct type of sump pump installed?

There are two types of sump pumps:  pedestal and submersible. Pedestal sump pumps are appropriate where there is a low water table and only minor flooding.  A pedestal pump has a motor that sits outside the water collection area on top of a pedestal. This makes them cheaper to install initially, but takes up more area in a small space.  Submersible sump pumps are best where there is a higher water table and heavier flooding. Submersible pumps are submerged in the water collection area. The motors are stronger and quieter, and pumps are out of the way.  When considering the type, also consider size. Sump pumps are measured by horsepower (HP). A 1/3 HP sump pump is usually sufficient for an average-sized home in an area with an average water table. However, if you have a larger home, a higher water table, a higher vertical lift or long pipe run to discharge water, you may need to up-size to a 1/2 HP unit.  For long-term efficiency and performance, selecting the correct type and size is critical. Call in a professional to help with your selection. Regardless of your choice, the pump will only continue to work its magic if it’s properly maintained.

How to maintain your sump pump

At a minimum, sump pumps should be inspected annually.  Late winter or early spring is a good time to check your pump.  However, several factors affect groundwater, so checking throughout the year is best. Here are a few ways to check to see how well your sump pump is maintained:

  • Is the pump getting power?  No power and your pump is useless.  Sounds silly, but make sure it’s plugged in.  Make sure no circuits are tripped. Also, all pumps require a GFCI connection. Unfortunately, GFCIs turn off mistakenly at times. Ensure the GFCI is powering the pump.

  • Inspect the pump, float and switch each year.

  • Clean hoses to prevent clogging.

  • Clear water collection pit of debris that might clog hoses.

  • Vibrations during pumping can cause it to slant.  Make sure your pump is sitting straight so the float moves easily.

  • Add a gallon of water to the pit to test that the pump functions and hoses are clear.

Even well-maintained sump pumps need repair or replacement at times.  They are mechanical systems after all. Be sure you know what signs you should be looking for to know it’s time to call in a plumbing professional.

Signs it’s time to repair or replace your sump pump

  • The pump is noisier than usual:  This can signal internal parts are damaged or worn. This damage can occur when debris is sucked in by the pump.  Repairing these internal components is difficult at best, so replacement is recommended.

  • Frequent on and off:  If the pump starts and stops too often, it could be backflow from an obstruction in a discharge pipe.  This could also happen if you’re sump pump is not large enough to handle the demand of your home. In that case, replacing your pump with the appropriate size would be smart.

  • It’s getting power, but not working:  An electrical problem is likely if the unit is receiving power, but not operating.  Electrical problems typically mean it’s time to replace the pump. If the float switch is getting power, but the pump is not working, your motor needs replacement.

  • How often should I expect to replace my sump pump?  You’ll hear a variety of recommendations. Some suggest every five years.  Others say 5-10 years. Still others say a pedestal pump can last 25-30 years.  How often your sump pump runs determines wear and tear. Wear and tear determine how often it needs replacement.  Having your unit inspected and maintained professionally will ensure your unit is replaced at the right time, before an unwelcome water disaster. Average replacement cost ranges from $650-$1780 nationwide.  While that’s not an insignificant cost, it could be far less costly than water damage in your basement.  That’s especially true if you have a finished basement with drywall, carpeting, furniture, and electronics to protect.  Investing in maintaining and replacing your sump pump at the appropriate time can save you thousands in clean-up, repairs and replacements after a flooded basement.

Do you have battery backup?

Will your sump pump work when the power is out?  If it doesn’t have built-in battery back-up, consider adding an emergency battery back-up sump pump.  A battery back-up is a lifesaver when the power is out. Equally important, if heavy rains overwhelm the primary pump, the back-up is there to continue the job.

To make sure your sump pump is weather ready, contact your plumbing professionals at Linthicum Plumbing & Drain Cleaning to schedule sump pump maintenance, repair or replacement.