The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps & waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless. These tips can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly:
1. Avoid putting fibrous foods or tough-skinned vegetables into the disposal.
The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities and run the cold water while you operate the unit.
2. Don’t put extremely hard foods into the garbage disposal.
Items such as bones and fruit pits can dull and even break the unit’s blades! In a worst-case scenario, hard foods will jam the disposal, preventing blades from turning and causing the motor to burn out.
3. Keep grease and greasy foods out of the disposal.
Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.
4. Contrary to popular belief, egg shells have no place in the garbage disposal.
Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shell’s stringy membrane layer can wrap around the shredder ring and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.
5. Avoid putting “expandable” foods such as pasta and rice into the garbage disposal.
Even small particles of these foods can swell with water and eventually clog the trap.
6. Exercise common sense, and don’t put non-food items into the garbage disposal.
Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges and plant clippings into their disposal units! These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.
7. Two methods to help tame stubborn garbage disposal odors:
*The first is to freeze white vinegar in ice-cube trays. Put the frozen cubes down the garbage disposal and turn it on. The texture of the hard ice will aid in the removal of odor-causing sludge & grime.
*The second method is “Borax.” This stuff is time-tested and proven to be an effective and inexpensive cleaner & deodorizer. Simply pour a few scoops into the disposal while running the water. I prefer to put the scoops of Borax in the sink and wash it into the disposal with running water.
In order to maximize results, do either of these when you plan on not using the unit for a few hours, like the last thing before bed. This way these products have the best fighting chance to eliminate and neutralize odor!
The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance; however, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of Sutherland Plumbing, LLC.
Facts & Myths about Water Heaters:
If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve already learned some of the basics about water heaters. Now let’s take a look at some of the facts & myths that are circulating about water heaters:
Myth: A new water heater offers significant savings
The Reality: New water heaters only offer marginal savings, and even replacing a 15 year-old water heater will only save about $6.30 a month in energy costs. These savings don’t take into account the additional cost of the new water heater. What may matter more is how you choose to use hot water in your home.
Myth: Older water heaters = dirty water
The Reality: Water heaters are designed to work for years without accumulating rust buildup. If you do notice a rust-colored tinge to your hot water or feel it’s taking longer than normal to heat the water, call your local service provider.
Myth: Proactive maintenance improves efficiency
The Reality: Proactive maintenance will improve efficiency only under the most severe conditions of sediment or lime accumulation. Maintenance is best done when homeowners notice a problem, like insufficient hot water or a rust-colored tinge to the hot water.
Myth: Older water heaters do not meet safety standards
The reality: As long as the initial installation was completed by a licensed, qualified professional, water heaters are installed according to code at the time of installation.
Myth: Tankless water heaters are right for everyone
The Reality: Tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than a storage water heater, which could translate into savings of up to $5 per month. (Depending on the age of the water heater being replaced). Because tankless water heaters work differently than consumers may be used to, they should walk through a needs assessment with a reputable provider before investing in a tankless system.
See the picture below. If you came home to find a notice like this on your door you’ve got questions and understandably some concerns.
Relax, this is routine and quite simply the water company attempting to notify you that compared to your average usage, it’s gone up exponentially. Although there are many reasons that can factor into this, we’ll share with you here the top three reasons that most likely exist (Based on 20+ years of field experience).
1) Your main underground water service pipe leading from the water meter to the home has sprung a leak and is leaking into the earth. Your options are to repair or replace. There are pros & cons to both options and the solution will vary depending on your budget & expectations. Generally speaking: repairs can end up as expensive temporary band aids while a proper replacement will ensure decades of trouble-free service. Contributing factors include, but are not limited to: the age & material of the existing pipe and the location & depth of the leak.
2) The irrigation (sprinkler) system is leaking. If connected properly, your sprinkler system “T’s” into or off of your main underground water service pipe. The sprinkler system then runs through an approved back-flow preventer and then goes off to serve the various zones or sprinkler heads.
3) A malfunctioning or “running” toilet is draining excessive amounts of water down the main sewer drain. Second to this is a faucet that is continuously dripping or leaking. This cause of excessive water usage is the least likely prompting a notice of increased water usage. (Again, this based on our experience.) It’s our contention that if a faucet was dripping and/or a toilet was running enough to prompt the notice – you’d probably know about it! Generally when a faucet or toilet is broken to that extent, people are aware & set-out to get it fixed before a whole billing cycle comes and goes!
You have options and choices either way. Dozens of times we have visited a homeowner expecting to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars only to find that simply turning off the sprinkler system will stop the leak and buy some time to get control of the situation rather than the situation being in control of you!
If you receive one of these notices at your home and are not sure why, Call (503) 719-4015 and schedule an appointment with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC.
“My toilet is clogged or has a weak flush, it doesn’t always empty the bowl when I flush it….”
The above quote is a very common symptom reported by many clients. Would it surprise you to know that about half of the time the toilet isn’t clogged at all! Take a look at the picture below:
Notice the spot marked “trap,” this is the place where water & waste travels on its way to the sewer drain pipe. Technically the toilet is only “clogged” when an obstruction exists inside the trap, preventing passage. Note the hollow area around the bowl. When a toilet is flushed, water sitting in the tank rushes into and around these hollow chambers and then enters the bowl via water jets. The main water jet (aka “siphon jet”) is usually at the bottom of the toilet bowl.
An older, poorly performing toilet can have clogged jets and/or obstructed jets preventing the water from entering the bowl as needed. This causes weak flushing toilets & toilet bowls that don’t empty all the way. Additionally, if the water level inside the tank is too low this results in an inadequate amount of water for a proper flush.
An old plumbing trick called “the bucket test” can narrow the possibilities. Simply fill a 5 gallon bucket of water and pour it into the toilet bowl expeditiously. If the toilet bowl revives the water with no problem or back up – it’s more than likely your toilet is in need of repair or replacement.
If this is the case, call (503) 719-4015 and speak with the pros at Sutherland Plumbing. We carry as regular stock: premium, high-efficiency 1.28 gallons per flush toilets on our trucks!
You will gain giant leaps ahead of the average homeowner in preparedness to avoid or deal with plumbing emergencies by simply familiarizing yourself and understanding the information contained in the following link.
Click below to view a publication distributed by the Portland Water Bureau:
Toilet bowls require caulking at the base to provide a water-tight seal preventing liquid or moisture from getting underneath it and festering.
Often times an installer will skip this step, does it wrong, and/or the caulking simply fails, as seen in the image below:
The next image is the same toilet re-caulked properly. Caulking of any kind is only as good as the surface we give it to adhere to. It’s important to remove any & all loose debris and clean the surface with a good all-purpose kitchen & bath cleaner – preferably one with a degreasing agent.
A common complaint from our clients is a consistent “skunky” odor coming from the toilet area. Without a proper seal at the floor any liquid that gets on the floor near the toilet can run up to and underneath the toilet bowl including the occasional “miss” by little Johnny!