The Seven Most Common Kitchen Plumbing Problems
From the ice cube dispenser in your refrigerator to the hot water you need to clean dishes, your New Jersey kitchen relies on a well-operating plumbing system to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Plumbing problems aren’t just an inconvenience. Some can cause serious damage to your home as well. While you’ll need professional assistance for major issues like broken pipes, there are fairly simple DIY fixes for the seven most common kitchen plumbing problems.
1. Low Water Pressure at the Kitchen Sink
If you’re experiencing a weak stream of water when you use your kitchen faucet, chances are that the problem is nothing more serious than a clogged aerator. Water picks up minerals like calcium as it travels to your home in Long Island, and these minerals tend to accumulate in the aerator. Simply remove the aerator, use a brush dipped in vinegar to clean out any debris and replace it.
2. Leaky Kitchen Faucet
Although some leaking faucet issues require a professional repair or replacement, it’s worth your while to check for some common problems before calling in the experts. If the faucet leaks from the base of the spout whenever you use it, the culprit may be a worn O-ring seal. Before disassembling the faucet, make sure that you turn the water off at the source. To access the O-ring, remove the coupling nut and gently coax the spout from its socket.
3. Clogged or Leaking Kitchen Sink
Your kitchen sink is equipped with a P-shaped trap that’s designed to keep sewer gases and odors from entering your home. Gravity pulls water into the curved section of the pipe to block out the gases. Materials like grease and soap scum can build up in the P-trap too and eventually obstruct the flow of water or cause a leak. To check the P-trap, place a bucket under it, use pliers to loosen the slip nuts at each end and remove the trap.
4. Garbage Disposal Care
A garbage disposal is a remarkable feat of human ingenuity, but it’s not engineered to handle materials like grease and bones. Even potato peels can cause the disposal to jam. If it stops working, pressing the reset button may be all that it takes to get it up and running again. To prevent future problems, run cold water down the drain for around 15 seconds before using it and for around 30 seconds afterwards.
5. Dishwasher Leaks
Before hauling the dishwasher out from beneath the counter to search for the source of a leak, check these common leak-causing problems. A broken float switch, for example, will allow water to fill the tub until it overflows. Damaged spray arms can also cause leaks. Both can be replaced using a screwdriver. Leaky door gaskets are easily replaceable as well. Leaks where the drain hose connects to your sink drain or garbage disposal can often be corrected by tightening the hose clamp screws.
6. Not Enough or No Hot Water
If you’ve recently added a water-using appliance to your kitchen, you may need to upgrade your water heater too. A too-small water heater is a common cause of inadequate hot water. When no hot water is produced from a gas-burning heater, a faulty gas pilot, thermocouple or control valve may be the cause. A broken dip tube can also disrupt your hot water supply. This tube of plastic brings cold water to the bottom of the hot water tank for heating. To replace it, disconnect the cold water inlet and undo the pipe nipple.
7. Clogged Drains
Water arrives at your home under pressure, but it relies on gravity to exit the property. Over time, a build-up of debris in the drains can impede the downward flow of water. A plunger is your first defense against a clogged kitchen sink drain. Many homeowners are wary about using chemical drain cleaners or augers that might damage the pipes, but there’s an eco-friendly homemade remedy you can try before a calling a plumber for help. Pour baking soda down the drain followed by an equal portion of vinegar. The bubbling action that occurs when the two substances mix may be enough to break up the clog. Wait 30 minutes, and then rinse with hot water. If you are still having issues with any of these problems call “Green Apple Plumbing NJ” Toll free at (888) 315-5564
Plumbing tips for the fall
Regular maintenance is an important part of keeping plumbing running at peak performance year round. However, as the weather grows colder here in New Jersey, there are some unique challenges homeowners can face keeping their drains clear, hot water heater running efficiently and pipes leak-free.
The many maintenance needs of plumbing systems don’t change much as fall hits and winter approaches, but many problems can be exacerbated by changing temperatures and frozen ground. Here are a few tips for eliminating plumbing problems and ensuring proper operation of this essential utility year round.
Check appliances – One area that many homeowners forget to assess for maintenance are water using appliances. In addition to checking pipes for leaks and faucets for drips, make sure the ice maker in your refrigerator, the dish washer and laundry are all working properly with no leaks or other issues that could be made worse during the winter.
Don’t overuse hot water – When it starts to get cold out it can be nice to relax in a hot shower or bath for a little longer, but these excesses add up quickly over time. Try to maintain the same water temperature you would in the summer and don’t spend extra time in the bath if it isn’t necessary to keep your bills low and refrain from taxing your hot water heater.
Prepare pipes for the cold – Readying your pipes early for the first deep cold of the season can help ward off freezing issues that can cause pipes to burst and other issues with plumbing. Make sure to install insulation, wrap pipes with foam coverings or even install heat strips if necessary. You should also make sure all exterior hoses can been removed and insulating caps put on spigots outside the house.
For plumbing service or assistance with regular maintenance in New Jersey, contact “Green Apple Plumbing NJ” toll free at 888-315-5564
Avoid scary plumbing problems this Halloween.
Be careful when carving! It is a staple of every fall season but can truly turn into a horror show for your kitchen drain and garbage disposal. When you remove the pulp, seeds and insides of your pumpkins this month, do not put them down the drain! That can lead to serious drain cleaning problems for your drain. Also, avoid putting them in the garbage disposal. Fibrous, stringy foods (like what you find inside your pumpkin) can catch onto your garbage disposal blades and cause malfunctions. Don’t take any chances – use the garbage!
The fall can give you the chills… especially when the weather shifts and the biting wind and weather of October hits you! One warning sign you should look out for that the weather could be hazardous for your plumbing system is frost. If you see frost on your lawn or your outdoor decorations and pumpkins, beware of pipe damage! Overnight freezes can be damaging to your copper pipes or PEX pipes and it is important to fix old, cracked pipes to make sure you don’t have a problem. Get your pipes inspected today and avoid frozen pipes this season.
Do Scary Sounds Have you on Edge?
Banging pipes in your home can make you think you are not alone! If your home sounds more like a haunted house than the safe place you used to sleep at night… call us! Loud pipes are a big annoyance in the home and their squealing and clamoring isn’t fun for anyone. At Green Apple Plumbing NJ, we can repair your howling pipes and restore a little peace and quiet in your home.
Avoid Scary Bills with Maintenance & Repairs
If your plumbing system isn’t working as efficiently as possible, or any comfort system in your home, you could be throwing serious money down the drain. When it comes to the health and condition of your pipes, you could also be wasting water and energy – it could be leaking out every second of every day! It’s important to make sure that your pipes are in good condition to maximize their efficiency. Taking the time to perform necessary plumbing repairs and having a plumbing system tune up can make all of the difference in the long run and can improve your home’s water conservation and energy efficiency. Call “Green Apple Plumbing NJ” toll free at (888) 719-4832
Avoid the Halloween plumbing problem and compost or trash your pumpkin pulp
Plumbing experts have some words of advice when it comes to turning pumpkins into glowing Halloween jack-o-lanterns:
Don’t dump the pumpkin guts down your drains or you risk clogged pipes.
“The seeds are hard and I’ve seen them jam a disposal,” says plumbing experts.
“The guts are also stringy and slimy and cause other stuff to attach and stop up the drain. Sometimes, there’s so much it won’t even make it around the turn of the trap.”
Plumbing experts also asks that jack-o-lantern creators think twice before putting all that potentially hardening pumpkin pulp where it doesn’t belong.
“It can also clog toilets and should not be flushed,” says Roda Boyen, recycling manager with the sanitation district.
“Flushing could cause problems further down in the sewage system.”
Instead, work pumpkin pulp into your garden or compost pile.
“Birds also like to feed on it,” says Bowen.
If you don’t have a compost pile, dispose of the pumpkin innards in the trash can. Separate out the seeds and roast them or dry them for a treat, or save them for spring planting. Pumpkin seeds are also great for the bird feeder. After Halloween, bury your jack-o-lantern in the garden or compost pile where it will decompose into organic material.
Tips for carving
•Spread out old newspapers in your carving work area, preferably outdoors.
•Create two piles — one for the gooey pumpkin guts and one for seeds.
•Using a sharp knife (adults only), cut a circle around the stem and remove the top.
•Use a large strong spoon to scoop out the pumpkin pulp and seeds. Separate the stringy core from the seeds.
•Draw your pattern on the front of the pumpkin and carve your design.
•Place a candle inside; consider using one of the new flameless wax candles, which are battery operated and safer to use.
•Save the seeds for roasting; you don’t even need to rinse them because a little pumpkin ooze enhances the flavor when baked. If you do rinse the seeds, do it at an outdoor spigot to avoid the drain problem, according to Roto Rooter plumbing and drain service.
Toast the seeds
•Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
•Spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter over the bottom of a roasting pan. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on the roasting pan. Add salt to taste.
•Bake on the top rack for 20-30 minutes, until the seeds begin to brown.
•When brown enough to your liking, remove the seeds and allow to cool.
Tip: You can add spices like cinnamon, cayenne, oregano or even hot sauce for more flavor options.
How To Insulate Water Pipes
• There are various materials for insulating pipes, but the easiest to use is pre-slit foam pipe insulation. It is available at most hardware stores and usually comes in 3’ lengths. Look for the size that fits the diameter of your pipes, and choose the one with the highest R-value.
• Simply snap the insulation over the pipe and run a strip of duct tape over the seam where pieces butt together. Join the split so it is facing downward on horizontal runs, and tape the long seam as well. Cut short lengths of the foam insulation with a razor knife. For corners, cut the insulation at 45o angles and wrap with duct tape.
• Do not wrap too tightly as it will lose some of its insulation value. Any part of the insulation that is outside should be painted.
• While you’re at it, insulate the cold water pipes too – this will help keep them from freezing in unheated areas or during cold weather if you’re away from home. (In areas of sustained freezing temperatures, the pipes will ultimately freeze; the insulation will only slow the process. The only way to prevent freezing is to drain the water or add heat (i.e. heat tape).
What else you should know:
In some cases, it may be advisable to reroute pipes, though this option can be quite involved and expensive.
Reduce hot water use for additional energy savings:
The following is excerpted from the US Department OF Energy website:
You can lower your water heating costs by using and wasting less hot water in your home. To conserve hot water, you can fix leaks, install low-flow fixtures, and purchase an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.
You can significantly reduce hot water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures—faucets and showerheads—or pipes. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month.
If your water heater’s tank leaks, you need a new water heater.
Install Low-Flow Fixtures
Federal regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi). New faucet flow rates can’t exceed 2.5 gpm at 80 psi or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi. You can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25%–60%.
Purchase Energy-Efficient Dishwashers and Clothes Washers
The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water. You’ll significantly reduce your energy costs if you purchase and use an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.
13 Hacks to Winterize Your Home – and Trim Your Heating Bill
It’s officially fall, which means winter is not far behind. The good news is that winter weather in much of the country is expected to be milder than last year’s frigid conditions, and heating costs are also projected to be lower, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But the cost of heating one’s home should still be a considerable expense in most parts of the country.
Heating is expensive enough already, so you don’t want to pay for heat that escapes out windows, doors and cracks rather than staying inside and keeping you warm.
“A lot of time we’re generating energy that we’re sending out into the air,” says Marianne Cusato, the housing advisor for HomeAdvisor.com and an associate professional specialist at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.
Fall is an ideal time to make repairs that will make your home more energy efficient, both saving you money and keeping you warmer. Even if you can’t afford major repairs, such as a new furnace or new windows, there are small things you can do to save big bucks on heating costs – and you can handle most of them yourself.
“Homes can lose heat in a lot of different areas,” says Anne Reagan, editor-in-chief of Porch.com. “I think that there’s a lot of things that can be fixed in someone’s home.”
Here are 13 hacks to winterize your home while also trimming your heating bill.
Caulk around windows. Warm air can escape and cold air can enter your house if the area around your windows has cracks. Caulking needs to be replaced periodically, and you should check every fall for holes that need to be patched, as well as holes anywhere outside your house. “You want to make sure your [home’s] envelope is secure,” Cusato says.
Replace weatherstripping around doors. If you can see light around the edges of your doors, you need new weatherstripping. “A small weatherstripping costs you five or six dollars, and it will save you hundreds of dollars in electrical bills,” says J.B. Sassano, president of the Mr. Handyman franchise company.
Close up your fireplace. Make sure your flue closes all the way, and check whether you can feel air coming in when it’s closed. Glass doors around your fireplace opening are another way to keep warm air in and cold air out of your house.
Put up storm windows and doors. If you have older windows and doors, adding storm windows and doors can help considerably. Window insulation film is another option to provide a layer of protection. “It really insulates the window,” Sassano says.
Add heavy drapes and rugs. Changing light summer drapes for heavy winter drapes was common in earlier times, and it’s still helpful, Reagan says. Drapes can keep the room warmer, while putting down rugs provides a layer of insulation above the floor.
Improve your insulation. Insulation deteriorates over time, so you may want to add more material in your attic. Other places to add insulation are in crawl spaces and exposed areas of decks. Sassano also recommends creating a false ceiling in unfinished basements and insulating between that ceiling and the living area. An insulating cover over your attic opening also helps trap in the heat.
Cover your water heater. You can buy a water heater blanket for around $20 at the hardware store that will keep the tank from losing heat as quickly, saving you money on your heating bill.
Get an energy audit. Many utility companies will provide a free energy audit and give you suggestions on improvements you can make to your home. You can also pay for a more extensive energy audit. “They’ll look at all the places you’re losing energy,” Cusato says.
Change your furnace filters. If the filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder. In most homes, filters should be changed monthly in the heating season. You should also have your furnace serviced periodically to make sure it is working properly. “It’s easy to overlook but it can mean your system isn’t working efficiently,” Cusato says.
Get a programmable thermostat. The newest thermostats can learn your family’s habits and set themselves to keep the house cooler when no one is there and warmer when the home is occupied. You can also purchase a more basic programmable thermostat. Prices vary considerably, depending on how sophisticated you want your thermostat to be.
Lower your water heater temperature. You can lower it from 140 degrees to 120 with no ill effect, Cusato says. And 120 degrees is the temperature recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Replace less efficient windows and doors. Adding double- or triple-pane windows, insulated doors and insulated garage doors will significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Lower the thermostat. It’s actually more comfortable to sleep in a colder home, and you can always add more blankets. When you’re awake, wear a sweater or sweatshirt to stay comfortable with a lower thermostat setting.
Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes
Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. Here is some information and suggestions about how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Preventing Frozen Pipes
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
How to Maximize the Efficiency of Your Heating System This Fall
With the start of the fall season around the corner, it is time to start thinking about heating your home for the winter. New Jersey can get very cold, so if your heating system is not running smoothly, it may be a very expensive and uncomfortable winter. Preparing your system is not hard, but knowing exactly what you can do and when it is time to call the professionals is important. There are many things you can do to improve the efficiency of your heating system, saving you energy and money on utility bills.
Change Air Filters
Changing the air filters in your heating system is one of the simplest things you can do to maximize efficiency. A clogged filter will prevent proper airflow and cause the rest of the system’s components to work harder. By putting this unnecessary strain on your unit, it is using more energy to run. Changing your air filters will not only save energy, and therefore money, but improve the indoor air quality of your home.
Weatherize Your Home
Sealing your home from the elements will start saving you energy instantly. Air leaks are common and will let your warm air escape, making it hard to stay warm. Your heating system will have to work harder and use more energy to maintain a warm home. Weatherizing can include weather-stripping the door, adding caulking and insulation, or sealing leaks such as the fireplace or vents.
Schedule Seasonal Maintenance
After you perform these do-it-yourself fixes, it may be time to call the professionals. Scheduling seasonal maintenance is important to ensure efficiency of your heating system and prevent unexpected repairs. Maintenance tune-ups include cleaning, calibrating, changing belts, and inspecting. A clean and well-functioning system will use less energy and lower your bills.