Today’s garbage disposals can take a licking and keep on ticking. They last a long time. Think of all that food that goes down yours… You use it thousands of times, but when you flip the switch that one time and there is no sound, you can’t believe that it quit. “Right when I needed you most!”

As much as you think it has finally let you down for the last time, it most likely is not deceased. Here are a couple of tips to try before you call your plumber to install a new garbage disposal. One of them will probably get it gobbling again:

• Completely dead – On the bottom of the unit is a recessed red button. This is a reset switch. It shuts the unit of automatically when you’re doing something that doesn’t agree with it. Push the button all of the way in. Turn on the water. Flip on the power. If it doesn’t work, see step 2.

• Check breaker panel – Open the door to your home’s main circuit panel box. Look at all switches to see if one is in the off position. If so, and hopefully it is labeled with a likely name like appliances, kitchen, disposal, etc. – turn it back on and try the disposal again.

• Hums but no grind – This is most likely due to something being lodged in the blades. A large hex key (Allen wrench) came with your disposal when you first purchased it. Hopefully it is in the cabinet under the disposal or in a drawer nearby. If you can’t locate it but have a hex key set in your toolbox, that will work too. Located at the center of the bottom of the unit (next to the red button) is a hole. In that hole is the female union for the hex key. Put the key in place and turn it clockwise a few turns then counter-clockwise. Remove the key. Again, water and power. Still nothing? Your final hope (Do this without attempting to turn the power on) is to place something long, like a broom handle down into the disposal and attempt to spin the blades manually. It can also help if you shine a flashlight into the disposal to see if there is anything visible that is lodged in the blades.

IMPORTANT: Never place your hand down through the rubber flange in the disposal. Use extreme care if you notice something lodged in the blades. It is best to use long pliers or a magnetic tool to remove items from inside the disposal. Power should be turned off at the breaker box for this. The blades mean business and will have you on the way to the emergency room in seconds if the unit suddenly activates and your hand is within range.

If all the above fail, you are ready for a new disposal my friend.

Closing thought… In our house, we consider all items going down the disposal. For most families the disposal replaces the garbage can for throwing food away. Remember – It all has to run the course of your drain and sewer line. Eventually, overuse of the disposal can contribute to drain clogs. Use your disposal sparingly for longer life and fewer drawn cleaning bills.

Every morning, we listen to a popular local FM radio oldies morning show while getting ready for work. Lately, local plumbers have been advertising on that show with something along the lines of “$79 drain cleaning.” Seemingly, some plumbing companies are trying the flat-rate approach used by the automotive industry ($19.95 oil change!) and furnace/AC companies ($49.95 AC recharge!).

Thinking through all the variables that can arise in any given plumbing situation, is a $79 flat fee really possible in a plumbing situation? Possibly, but not probably. If you are considering taking advantage of a flat-rate plumbing offer, be aware that it’s likely that terms and conditions apply.

We’re not saying that drain backups or clogs can’t be resolved with a simple $79 visit. They can…if the job simple (and if it was, wouldn’t you have fixed it yourself, with a plunger?). By the time one calls in a plumber, however, clog situations are have typically moved beyond the simple $79 fix.

A low-cost “foot in the door” rate is a good way for plumbers (or any tradesperson) to observe your immediate trouble, then identify additional problem spots that need to be repaired. That “simple” clog may be caused by a cracked train tile, roots in the drain line, a child’s toy jammed in the drain pipe…all of which add up to significantly more than $79.

Water You Waiting For? When you have a plumbing issue, a second opinion (or, a realistic cost estimate) is a good idea. Allied Reddi-Rooter never advertises flat-fee rates because it sets unrealistic expectations and can lead to customer frustration. Instead, we provide an honest, professional evaluation of your situation, with the true cost of repair. Additionally, we offer coupons to help offset the cost of many of our services. Learn more, call Ray today at (513) 396-5300.

For vacationers, there are a thousand tasks to complete before hitting the road: shopping, packing, cleaning, and planning. When making your vacation plans, include “check the plumbing” to your list – there are many stories about vacationers returning home to find a burst water line, flooded basement, or other plumbing related problem. It’s the classic Murphy’s Law scenario – leaks happen when you are away from home.

Before You Go – Vacation Plumbing Checklist
According to the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractor Association (PHCC), following the tips on the list below can save you time, money, and headaches upon your return.

• Turn off the main water valve – It’s the most worthwhile 5 minutes one can spend before leaving for vacation. If you can’t locate the main valve, turn off the individual suppy valves that feed water to your sinks and toilets.

• Set your water heater on the lowest temperature setting.

• Unplug small appliances, TVs, and computers.

• Set your thermostat at 80 degrees.

• Make sure your sump is working, if you have one.

Vaction Site Plumbing Tips
When you arrive at your destination, be it a humble fishing cottage or beautiful villa in a foreign city, there are a few things to keep in mind when using unfamiliar plumbing systems:

• Pack your own toilet paper – depending on whether your retreat is on city sewer or a country septic system, give consideration to the TP. Septic systems may be prone to clogging (yuck) when “better” grades of toilet paper are used. If you cannot live with 1-ply, use less of the 2-ply kind to reduce the chances of nasty toilet clogs. On the other hand, some hotels may not provide the level of TP quality that you prefer.

• Locate the plunger ASAP – Without fail, a vacation toilet will clog at the worst time possible. If you have a plunger handy, it’s one less embarrasing thing to call management about.

• Rural retreats frequently use well water (read: hard water). Soaps, shampoos, and detergents may not lather or rinse as easily as with city water.

• Pack bottled water for coffee, Kool-Aid, making ice cubes, and drinking.

• Some hard-core DIY individualists travel with small “tool wraps” that include a selection of screwdrivers, duct tape, teflon tape, a regular flow shower head (for use instead of the vacation shower head), and few good wrenches (the kind that come in handy under sinks). Our Boy Scout alter ego likes this approach, as it’s often easier to discreetly fix little issues than rely on someone else’s repair timetable. Use your best judgement here.

Water You Waiting For? If you would like help “vacationizing” your home or if you return home to find a leak, the professionals at Allied Reddi-Rooter can help, 24/7. Call Ray today for a free estimate. 513-396-5300.

Conventional wisdom suggests that bath and kitchen improvements are a de facto goldmine when looking to add resale value to one’s home.  But if your situation changes unexpectedly, and a complete bath/kitchen makeover is beyond your means, a good plumber can help with budget-friendly improvements that will impress a potential buyer.  Below are a few tips:

Bathroom

Things You Can Do

Put a fresh coat of good paint on the bathroom.  Visit the big box home improvement store and purchase their top-of-the-line paint.  It’s about $40/gallon and most bathrooms only require about 1/2 gallon.  Good paint goes on smoothly, doesn’t show brush marks, and is durable – it scrubs without coming off the wall. Install a new shower head – fairly straightforward; unscrew the old one and screw on the new on.  Video tutorial (runtime: 1:44): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fiv4Zq9v4co

Things the Plumber Can Do

• Install a new lavatory and/or faucet.

• Install a new/replacement toilet.

Savings Tip: Purchase your own fixtures and hire a plumber (such as Allied Reddi-Rooter) to install them.

Kitchen

Things You Can Do

De-grease and clean everything. This is an all- weekend job. Kitchens are notorious for collecting greasy dust on top of fridges, cabinets, and exhaust areas. When you think it’s clean, look again from a different angle: sit on the kitchen floor and prepare to be horrified at the grime, drips, and chunky stuff on and under lower cabinets.  After that, stand on a ladder and look down on the cabinets from above.  Repeat the “upper deck” cleaning process. Paint, if needed.  Tip: Use the leftover bathroom paint. Color continuity from room-to-room is a good thing.

Things the Plumber Can Do

• Install/re-route a gas line, enabling you to replace a costly electric stove with a more efficient gas model.

• Replace a worn kitchen sink with a shiny new modern version.

• Attach/repair ice maker lines.

Laundry Area

Things You Can Do

This is a hot button area for busy moms.  A laundry area needn’t be large, but it must be easy-to-use, thoughtful, and organized. Ensure there is enough counter and storage space for cleaning supplies, detergents, baskets and clothes waiting to be put away. Good lighting is a must – consider replacing dated lighting with newer versions. If your home doesn’t have a formal laundry “room”, ensure the area is clean and tidy.

Things the Plumber Can Do

• Re-arrange plumbing so the washer and dryer are side-by-side.

• Ensure that floor drains are in good working order.

• Install a conventional sink instead of a basic laundry sink.

Ergonomic Tip: Give consideration to the direction your dryer opens, so you aren’t lifting wet laundry over the dryer door when placing it into the dryer.   If the dryer door hinge is on the right side, place the dryer to the right of the washer. If the dryer door hinge is on the left, place the dryer to the left of the washer.

Garage

Things You Can Do

Organization Rules the Day.  Whether your garage is detached or attached, make sure it’s uncluttered enough to hold at least one car. If possible, put a fresh coat of paint on the floor and protect the paint job from parked-car-fluid-leaks (use a clean tarp or large piece of  cardboard).  A potential buyer will appreciate that you take care to protect the floor. For those who are handy and have a suitable garage layout, consider framing in a bathroom area. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just functional.   A garage bathroom is a great way to keep yard dirt out of the house.

Things the Plumber Can Do

• Ensure that floor drains are in good working order.

• Install a toilet and a lavatory (for major bonus points with male buyers, especially on a detached garage…a.k.a. man cave).

Water You Waiting For?  If you are planning to move soon and would like to get your house sale-ready with the least possible expense, Allied Reddi-Rooter can help. Call Ray today for estimates on your improvement needs.  His team is enthusiastic, professional and can advise you on the best approach to meet your needs.  Coupons apply.  Call today! 513-396-5300.