The Factors That Shorten The Life Expectancy of Cast Iron Plumbing

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The bulk of people out there live in homes that were built before 2000. On the surface, this isn’t a huge issue, as most components are perfectly serviceable. However, serviceable can also mean outdated, which is technically the case with traditional cast iron plumbing versus modern plastic plumbing. Cast iron plumbing, on paper, is extremely effective, lasting from 80-100 years, and durable enough to handle heavy water pressure. Part of the issue, though, is that for those older homes, that cast iron plumbing may be reaching the end of its natural lifespan. In addition, there are external factors that may cause this plumbing to wear out even faster than that. Here are some things to look out for.

One of the basic things that happens with age in cast iron plumbing is the development of a crust of “tubercules.” This is internal rust that forms inside the pipes, slowing the flow of water and eventually contributing to corrosion. Corrosion can manifest in a lot of different ways, from long horizontal cracks to pipes being blocked or having certain segments erode away. In general, this is a natural part of the aging process.

Another potential cause of rust that is inherent to waste lines is hydrogen sulfide gas. This is a natural byproduct of what runs through waste lines, but can produce sulfuric acid, which will corrode cast iron. Some drain cleaners contain this as well, but we will reach that topic in a moment. In other cases, you may end up having issues with your cast iron plumbing for something completely out of your control, like the growth of roots near your pipes outside. Older trees may end up endangering the health of your pipes, so it may pay to learn where your pipes are located and see if any older trees are nearby. In addition, some soil composition in some areas is inherently acidic, another potential threat to your pipes.

In some cases, though, certain acts on the part of the homeowner may end up speeding up the deterioration of cast iron plumbing. One thing that a lot of experts talk about is washing certain items down the drain. These include things like:

  • Grease
  • Acidic soils
  • Detergents
  • Drain chemicals

In many cases, the issues boil down to chemical reactions. We already talked about how gases can develop in piping from regular use, but putting in things like chemicals or bleach can lead to further reactions and gas release. On top of this, it may end up clogging up the drain. If you plan on using a household chemical to try and clean or unclog the drain, try looking out for environmentally friendly options. These not only help the environment, but are less likely to cause piping problems.

A similar situation happens with excessive cooking grease. Unlike other biological components, grease doesn’t break down over time. This can lead to clogs and unpleasant odors from the drain, and in time, cause excessive wear and tear on the pipes.

When it comes to the health of your cast iron plumbing, it’s going to be difficult to pin down these issues, so the best thing you can do is try and be proactive. Before leaks or major plumbing problems, you may notice occasional odors, slow draining, or indentations. In some cases, you may also see some indirect signs of plumbing trouble, like a rodent infestation or a lawn that look extra healthy—despite the fact that you’re not doing anything special for it.

Cast iron plumbing, in theory, is a long-lived component of your home’s water system. However, as you can see, there are a number of issues that may result in you needing to replace it before its time. When you’re caught in this situation, the best course of action is to call up the top Miami plumbers to get service before this causes additional problems. Hernandez Plumbing is a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972. Among our many other services in the Miami area, we can help replace any corroded or leaking cast iron plumbing, as well as target the issue that caused it to wear out faster in the first place.

The History and Problems of Cast Iron Sewer Lines

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History of Cast Iron

History of Cast Iron Sewer Lines

Chances are that if you had the means to look into the underground beneath many major cities across the country, you’d see a lot of cast iron sewer lines under them.

This is because, for a while, this was considered to be the gold standard when it came to sewer piping options and it’s performed well for a while.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Even the best materials can’t perform at their top level forever. Many of the cast iron sewer lines that were installed under cities and homes decades ago are beginning to reach the end of their lifespans.

This is why it’s important to understand some of the potential problems these pipes can develop and what your other options are.

Let’s Go Back In The Past

First, let’s start the conversation with a bit of a history lesson. The first cast iron pipes in the U.S. date all the way back to the early 1800s. Don’t worry, these probably aren’t the ones under your home right now, as they were originally designed for water distribution.

Only later did they become commonplace for sewage piping. While other contenders would pop up over the years to come, cast iron was always a favorite due to its combination of durability and reliability.

It wouldn’t really have proper competition until the 1970s, where plastic options like PVC sewer piping were commonplace. Most homes built after the 70s use plastic in their piping, but that still leaves a lot of room for cast iron sewer pipes.

Why Is This The Case?

Well, in ideal conditions, cast iron piping can actually last as long as 75 to 100 years, even more in some cases. In rare situations, that may actually eclipse the two other main options for sewer lines, clay, and PVC.

With this said, that doesn’t mean that cast iron sewer lines are immortal. Human waste, certain detergents, and many other substances cause the iron to corrode over the time. When the thickness of the sewer line narrows as a result of that corrosion, the pipe isn’t wide enough to properly carry sewage out of your home and building.

At this point, you need to consider having it replaced.

There are other issues as well, especially for older homes. For example, standards can change over time.

A cast iron pipe installed 50 years ago may be significantly different than one that is 80 years ago, the same as you would expect from any structural components that were made 30 years apart. The problem with this is that just like anything else, there may be stronger and weaker brands.

As a result, some pipes may start to deteriorate way earlier than expected. Remember, that earlier example we gave was under ideal conditions.

Out With The Old & In With The New

Another issue that can be potentially problematic for people working on cast iron is the fact that, like older materials, it’s can be more difficult to both install and keep up cast iron sewer lines compare to their more modern counterparts.

Cast Iron Plumbing Expertise Is A Dying Breed

Some plumbers that you work with may not have the expertise necessary to work on cast iron sewer lines, or may end up charging you more for labor costs because it takes longer to work on. If you have an older cast iron sewer system, this means paying more, but also potentially paying more often—a poor combination.

Cast iron sewer lines are a staple of many homes, and while they have reached that point for a reason, this doesn’t mean there aren’t improved options out there to create a better system of plumbing for your home or business.  Cast iron sewer lines can be a hidden time bomb. Click here to find out why.

Many people are going to find themselves needing to change or repair their cast iron sewer lines due to the basic nature of wear and tear.

Whether you are trying to extend the lifespan of your cast iron pipes or make an upgrade to another option, it’s essential to have plumbing professionals do the job to avoid present and future issues with your piping.

Hernandez Plumbing is ready to help homes in the Miami area that are finding themselves in such a situation. We’re a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972. When you run into a plumbing nightmare despite your best efforts, we’re here to help.

 

 

5 Ways To Prevent Plumbing Nightmares

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Plumbing nightmares

Plumbing nightmares

Whether you have an older home or a newer, one, making sure that your plumbing is working properly is an essential part of keeping things up and running. After all, when pipes burst or sinks/toilets become backed up, it seems to put your entire home life on hold. Just like taking care of a lawn or a home appliance, doing a little bit of work here and there is a lot easier to having to drop everything to deal with a major repair or emergency issue. In addition, it tends to cost a lot less money. Here are some examples of things that you can do to avoid finding yourself in the middle of a plumbing disaster.

Clogs

Beware of clogs. There are lots of different things that can end up backing up your various pipes and plumbing. A lot of avoiding this is just doing a little bit of extra cleaning work and using best practices in your home. For the shower, hair and soap residue can build up over time. Before you find yourself needing to deal with a clog, just get in the habit of going into the shower drain with a dry or wet vacuum. For the sink, try to avoid putting in excessive grease or cooking fat. Clogged Toilet? Click here. Clogged Sink?  Click Here. 

Just A Simple Peek

Look for visual signs. Sometimes, a simple peek every now and then can make the difference between a plumbing disaster and a minor hiccup. For example, if the hoses in the back of your washing machine dry out and burst, you have an expensive repair and potential water damage to deal with. Check for cracks and blisters in the hoses regularly to catch a problem before it happens.

The Valve We Forget About

Know your main shut-off valve. The main water shut-off valve in your home controls the flow of all water in your home, and it’s important to not only know where it is, but make sure that it works. Be sure to test it every now and then, and shut it off if you are going to be leaving your home for a vacation or extended period.

The Critters That Make Us Jump

Take care of infestations. When mice or other vermin set up shop in your home, a lot of the time, they prefer to go through cracks and holes in your sewer pipe. Not only do you have unwanted animals in your home, but if they set up shop in some of your plumbing, it can lead to other issues down the line. Be sure to look out for potential points of entry, and consider getting an exterminator if you see clear evidence that pests are in your home.

Break The Habit of Not Being In A Habit

Get in the habit of doing your own maintenance checks. Just like a car, some people neglect their basic plumbing needs until something goes catastrophically wrong. However, you can get a little bit of a hint that you’re going to need to call a plumber for help by doing a few basic checks to see how your main systems are working. One example of this for your toilet can be done with basic household items. In some cases, the flapper at the back of your toilet can warp out of shape due to wear and tear. Checking for a faulty flapper is easy: just put some dark food coloring into your toilet tank and leave it overnight. If you check the next day and see that there’s still color in the bowl, you need a new flapper.

When it comes to taking any kind of care of your home, plumbing included, you’re going to need to do two main things to be equipped for any scenario. The first is going to be employing all the different tactics and techniques we mentioned to try and take as good care of your plumbing system as possible. The second is going to be understanding that despite all your best efforts, eventually, you will probably encounter something that’s out of your depth. When this happens, you want to have a professional plumber at the ready to tackle the issue and avoid any long-lasting damage or expenses. For the Miami area, Hernandez Plumbing fills that need. We’re a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972. When you run into a plumbing nightmare despite your best efforts, we’re here to help.

 

7 Fixes For A Leaking Shower Pan

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Leaky Shower Pan

Leaky Shower Pan

A shower pan is an essential part of your bathroom, but chances are that you probably don’t do a lot of thinking about it even though you use it every day. The porcelain, ceramic, or plastic basin that collects all the water from your shower and guides it towards the drain is designed to be as durable as possible, but is subject to wear and tear like anything else. Things like excessive movement or basic wear and tear can lead to cracks and leaks.

Left unchecked, a crack or a leak in your shower pan could lead to a number of issues, including water damage in your foundation and wasted water. Before getting into the different ways to fix it, let’s go over an effective way to test if you really do have a leaky shower pan. Simply duct tape your drain over, fill it to roughly an inch high of water, then wait for around 8 hours. If you see that your shower is dry, you likely have a pan leak. If that’s the case, here are 7 ways to fix the problem:

  1. Put in a pre-constructed pan

These pre-fabricated pans can be purchased at any home improvement center, and are generally made of a solid fiberglass or composite material. The one caveat when it comes to these is that you don’t have a lot of options in terms of shape. Generally, you’re going to find something that’s designed for standard shower angles, so if you have a unique shower, this may not necessarily be the ideal match.

  1. Use epoxy

While this won’t necessarily work for every situation, for those who aren’t able or interested in getting under the shower pan for a full replacement, this may be an option, especially for many minor leaks.  Some products promise to penetrate into the grout near a shower pan, displacing the water. This could be an effective temporary solution if you need to bide time to save for a full replacement.

Shower Head

Shower Head

 

  1. Replace the pan liner

This is most applicable for ceramic showers, which have a proper waterproof barrier that’s designed to catch water going through the tile floor and down the drain pipe. However, these have a limited lifespan just like any other component of the shower. The catch here is that this is more of a half measure, and your new tile probably won’t match the older one.

  1. Apply masonry sealer

Similar to the epoxy, this is a relatively inexpensive way to cut down on water damage from a leaky shower pan, but it’s only going to be a temporary fix until you replace the shower pan itself.

  1. Grout repair

If you have a small shower pan leak and aren’t interested in tearing up floors and walls, tackling the issues of grout may be a bit easier. Grout wears out over time, so you may be able to get away with applying some sealer or replacing the grout completely. However, if you see that the subfloor is also starting to wear out, you’re better off just replacing the entire pan.

  1. Use a DIY fix

This is the most extreme and also probably the least-recommended option on this list. Changing a shower pan is among the most drastic replacements you can make in a bathroom, including not only disassembling the shower but potentially having to take out and replace portions of the wall. In addition, if you don’t get a good fit for the new shower pan and the wall, you may encounter some of the same issues before you replaced it.

  1. Call a professional plumber

All the techniques and tactics we mentioned are a good way to help take care of a leaking shower pan, but they may not necessarily be a permanent fix. In addition, some of these may require tools that you don’t have, or your shower pan might not be easily accessible. In times like these, you want to make sure that you have skilled Miami plumbing professionals to call on. Hernandez Plumbing is a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972. Among our many other services in the Miami area, we can target the exact location of your shower pan leak and take care of it before it raises your utility bill or causes water damage.

 

 

Why Your Water Bill Is Higher and What to Do About It

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Water Bills High?

Water Bills High?

Part of being a property owner is constantly managing costs, not just the costs of buying the property, but the costs of upkeep, maintenance, and beyond. Lawn care, property taxes, housing association fees, these can all be headaches to deal with on a monthly basis, but one thing you can’t neglect is the utilities. One thing about utility bills that can be frustrating is that if you end up having to pay more for some reason, you’re probably not going to find out until the bill comes due. After your initial shock, it’s important that you figure out exactly what is behind your higher water bill, for example. Here are some potential culprits.

For a start, let’s talk about the direct effects that a household can have on their own water bill. For example, something as simple as leaving the faucet on by brushing your teeth, or getting in the habit of taking extra-long showers after a hard day’s work can leave an impact on your water bill over a prolonged period of time. While chances are that these aren’t costing you tons of money, fixing the issue is absolutely free. If you have a lot of wasteful water habits, this can mean free savings by changing things up.

Another similar example is making sure that you’re monitoring new equipment and appliances that may indirectly add to your water bill. There are a lot of different additions that can fall under this category, like

  • Pools
  • Washing machines
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Freezers

In some cases, buying a newer one of these items may mean more power, but also more water consumption. Be sure to look at your water bill the month after you install one of these and see how much change there is. By the same token, you may have the occasional seasonal increase of your water bill, like from tending to your garden in summer. In addition, sudden household changes may change the amount of money that you spend without thinking. For example, when children are home for the summer or someone moves in for an extended period of time, this will increase the amount of water use that you have.

However, the most drastic things that will suddenly drive up your water bills are issues with the plumbing. The single most common cause of sudden high water bills is continuous water flow from your toilet, which can lead to as much as 200 gallons    a day lost and a massive spike in a household’s water use. In some cases, it’s easy to detect a leak, like if you see a dripping faucet or running toilet. However, other leaks may be more subtle.

One major example of this is outdoor leaks. A leak in the sprinkler system, for example, can be easily seen due to puddles and wetness in the yard. However, there are other leaks that may be harder to catch, like those under the home or between the water meter and the home. There are also other occasional parts of your home that can develop a leak, like a water heater, but these are rarer. Ideally, you’ll want to slowly and thoroughly check for leaks across the home when you first see a huge water bill. This applies doubly when talking about irrigation systems, as these tend to govern a lot of water use during the summer, and one broken part could lead to a lot of water getting wasted. This can include irrigation valves sticking on or timers not being properly programmed.

In some cases, cutting down on your utility expenses is a matter of making a few lifestyle changes or being more conscious of your usage. In other situations, it’s due to things that are out of your control, and it’s in situations like these that you want to act as fast as possible. For example, if leaks are behind your water bill woes, make sure you find plumbing professionals in Miami to attend to them quickly. At Hernandez Plumbing in Miami, we can find the leaks that are driving up your water bill and handle them quickly. This experience and expertise is built up over time—we’re a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972.

Faucet

Faucet

10 Signs That You Need to Replace Your Cast Iron Plumbing

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10 Signs

10 Signs

If you’re like many homeowners across the U.S., your cast iron plumbing might be causing some problems around your property. Cast iron was the material of choice back in the 20th century, but these days are coming to an end. Cast iron was once seen as reliable and durable, but these pipes are being replaced by more economical plumbing materials. If you have cast iron plumbing in your home, here are 10 signs that it’s time to have it replaced.

  1. Constant Leaks

If you see constant leaks around your home, such as a drip of water here and a water stain there, it’s time to replace your cast iron pipes or the leaking will only get worse.

  1. Slow to Drain

Your cast iron pipes might be slow to drain after a while. All kinds of debris, hair, and even hard water can lead to a buildup in the pipes, which means it can take a while for the fluid to drain.

  1. Discolored Tap Water

No one wants to drink yellowish tap water. If you’ve noticed a strange discoloration every time you turn on the facet, your cast iron pipes are probably to blame.

cast iron pipes

cast iron pipes

  1. Cracks in the Foundation

If one of your pipes springs a leak, you might notice cracks in the wall or around the foundation of your home. This usually means the main water line is leaking and has been for some time. You’ll need to call a plumber before the leak does serious damage to the structure of your home. 

  1. Rodents and Pests

If you have cast iron sewage lines and they spring a leak, your home could become a five-star hotel for rodents and other pests that love the smell of sewage. In addition to calling an exterminator, you might want to call a plumber.

  1. Strange Smells

Strange smells can also be a sign that your pipes need to be replaced. You might notice the smell of sewage or mold, which can be a sign of an even larger issue like a leak or water damage.

  1. Mold Spores

If one of your pipes has been leaking, you’re bound to see or smell mold around your property after a while. Mold can lead to all sorts of health hazards, so you should call a plumber right away.

  1. Leaking Sewage

If you have leaking sewage on your property, it will probably turn up in your front or backyard. Sewage actually doubles as a natural fertilizer, so you might see parts of your yard looker greener than normal. But if you see sewage or suspect a leak, you’ll need to fix the issue immediately. You don’t want to walk through sewage every time you go in your yard. It may be time for a drain cleaning or sewer camera inspection.

  1. Sagging Soil or Pavement

If some of the soil in your yard or parts of the driveway look like they’re sagging, it might be a sign that water is leaking under your property. This will cause the soil or cement to sink in, creating an uneven look.

Blue Plumbing Line

Blue Plumbing Line

  1. Puddles on Your Property

Puddles in your yard can also be a sign that you have a leak somewhere underground. The grass might feel unusually soggy in some parts.

If you still have cast iron pipes in your home, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll need to be replaced. Don’t wait until you see some of the signs we mentioned above, as repairing water damage and leaks can be quite expensive. Contact the experts at Hernandez Plumbing today to have your home’s cast iron pipes replaced before you see the first signs of trouble.

How to Prevent and Protect Your Home from Leaks

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Home Leaks

Home Leaks

There are a lot of reasons to want to act quickly when it comes to household leaks, especially in an area like Miami where rain and wild weather can be common. For one, government statistics show you’re your average family can waste 180 gallons per week just from household leaks.

WOW!

This adds up to 9,400 gallons of water a year, which means a much bigger water bill than you were probably expecting. Combine this with the fact that a leak can lead to water damage, and even the smallest drip can lead to a big expense.

The silver lining here is that there are a lot of things you can to do to be proactive and catch leaks before you get to that point.

In general, the basic principle when it comes to catching leaks early is going to be being attentive to both your plumbing as well as your water-using appliances. Here are a few examples of some symptoms that may lead to a leak if you don’t act:

  • Check for running water in the bathroom. This doesn’t just mean leaving the faucet on, but toilets that “phantom flush” or tanks that refill. A leaky toilet is one of the most common household leaks, and can still cause a major cost on your water bill.
  • Every year, look under your sinks, dishwashers, and refrigerators. With some of the bathroom leaks we mentioned above, you can generally hear them even if you don’t see them. A small drip in the cabinet under the sink may not be so noticeable, but can still cause water damage, especially to wood. 
  • Check your water heater annually as well. Things that could potentially lead to water leaks include condensation and corrosion around the pipes. Every three years, you want to bring on a professional as well to help with leak detection you may not see at first.
  • Clear your gutters at least once a year along with your indoor leak detection. This will give you the chance to clear out blockages that could damage your gutters, roof, and even your foundation.

The Other Areas To Consider?

Water Lawns

Water Lawns

One example may be your irrigation system if you use one to help water your lawn. A lot of things can cause leaks here, from hard water deposits to rodents.

This is a bit harder to be proactive about, but some signs that you may have a small leak can include a dying lawn even with your system, or soggy patches on the law. If you have a large landscape you need to maintain, it may be worth it to install an irrigation meter.

In the same vein, take a look at the trees on your property in relation to where your piping is. If you see roots starting to grow towards where you have pipes, you may want to call a Miami plumber in advance to see if one is intruding on the other.

Pay Attention!

Leaks are more than a minor inconvenience. If left unchecked, they can not only lead to potential damage of some of your personal possessions, but affect the safety of your home, due to structural issues and the potential for mold and disease spreading.

Top Tier Plumbing Experts

Reach out to plumbing professionals in Miami the moment you think that there’s a possible leak. At Hernandez Plumbing in Miami, we know how to act fast and effectively to target and fix leaks. When it comes to plumbers in Miami, we’re also the gold standard—a 3rd generation family-owned business that’s been around since 1972.

Top Practices for Residential Leak Detection

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Leaks can damage your property in all kinds of way, especially if they go undetected for days, weeks or even months at a time.

What might start out as an occasional drip could escalate into full-on water damage, leading to the spread of mildew, mold, and other harmful forms of bacteria. If not sealed properly, these leaks could also do structural damage to your property, eating away at the support your home needs to stay intact.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly used non-invasive residential leak detection methods that you can use to keep your home safe and dry.

 Checking the Meter Is a Must!

Water Counter Meter

Water Counter Meter

If your home is leaking water, the first place to look is the water meter. Maybe you’ve noticed a recent spike in your utility bills as if someone left the water on. Regardless if the bill total has changed, take a look at your water meter when you’re not using any water to see if water is flowing through the system.

Every meter is different, but you should see some kind of visual indicator that your home is using water such as a spinning wheel or a lit-up water droplet.

It’s Important to Know If the Leak Is Inside or Outside Your Home

When you’re not using water, but your meter says otherwise, that means you have a leak. The following pointers will help you:

  • Turn off the main water valve for your property.
  • After that see if the leak is inside your house or between the meter and your house.
  • When the main valve is off, and your system is still delivering water, the leak is outside your home.
  • If the system goes quiet with the main water valve, the leak is inside your home
Detecting leaks

Detecting leaks

Detecting Leaks in Toilets

 Toilets can easily cause leaks since you’re using them frequently throughout the day. If you’re flushing constantly, even a small leak can add up to some major headaches and exorbitant water bills down the line. If you suspect your toilet is guilty of a leak, try this:

  • Try putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank.
  • Wait about an hour without flushing the toilet to see if any of the food coloring shows up in the toilet bowl.

If food coloring shows up, then you have a leak. If not you’re lucky because toilets leaks aren’t too costly. It usually involves replacing a small valve or the flushing mechanism.

 Visual Signs of a Leak

Another noninvasive leak detection method is to look around your property for visual signs of a leak.

If a pipe is leaking behind the wall or in the ceiling, you may notice some slight discoloration or a yellowish spot near the affected area.

Using Your Eyes Can Really Make a Difference

Look around your home for these visual signs, including places that might not get a lot of foot traffic such as the attic, basement, crawl space and other hard-to-reach areas. You may also notice water droplets or ripples and bubbles in the wallpaper or drywall around your home. Use these guidelines to check for signs of an underground leak as well.

water on walls

Water on walls

Water Sensors and Thermal Imaging

You can place smart water sensors around your home, especially in tight corners and between walls where you’ve had leaks in the past.

Technology that Helps

A sensor can be connected to an app that you can use on your smartphone. If water comes near the sensor, it will alert you in real-time that you have a leak on your hands. You can stay on top of any leaks in your home even if you’re hundreds of miles away. This is also a great way to manage ongoing leaks if they continue to be an issue.

Some professionals may also use thermal imaging tools to look behind walls for leaks without physically altering your property. These tools can sense water movement and changes in temperature, which makes them effective when it comes to noninvasive leak detection.

Leaks can pose a major threat to your home and your personal possessions. If you suspect a leak, contact the professionals at Hernandez Plumbing in Miami for immediate assistance. We’ll be there to stop the leak and clean up the mess as fast as possible.  You may also enjoy our article, “5 Ways to Find a Water Leak In Your Home” if you enjoyed this one.

 

7 Steps to Fix a Garbage Disposal

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That moment when you are cleaning up from a big family dinner and you are at the sink, scraping food waste into your garbage disposal; you turn it on and hear an ear-piercing noise or no noise at all.

What are you going to do now? Maybe you should call the plumber, but first, let’s see if you can fix it yourself. Below are 7 simple things to look at in case you can save yourself a little cash!

  1. OUTLET POWER

Do you have power? Whenever there is an issue with an appliance, always check the power source first. Is it plugged in? If no, that could be your issue. Very simple to fix! It would be great if every fix were as simple as plugging in the unit. In the situations where the fix to your “broken” garbage disposal is not that easy here are a few ideas on how you, yes YOU may be able to fix it.

  1. MAIN BREAKER POWER

You checked that the unit was plugged in and all was well with the plug.  You flip the switch and still nothing.  The next place to check is at the main power source. Check to make sure that no breaker or fuse has tripped. If it has tripped, replace the fuse or switch the breaker back on and you are all set. Flip the switch and you should have power.

  1. THERMAL OVERLOAD BUTTON

At this point, you have checked the plug, and the main source of electric and still nothing seems to be working. The next step is to make sure the unit is unplugged, or the breaker is off—this is for your own safety.

Open the cabinet under the sink and you should see the bottom of your garbage disposal. If you reach under it, on the very bottom of the disposal there should be a small button. This is called the thermal overload button.

This is sort of a reset button for the unit. Press this button down for a few seconds to reset the unit. Now you will want to try running water and turning the wall switch on. If unit is running smoothly you are good to go. If not…then keep reading.

  1. CLOGGED DISPOSAL

Now you will need to check to see if there is a clog. First thing is first; you will need to make sure that the main source of electric is off. Again you will not want to risk injury to yourself. Going under the sink to try and fix the garbage disposal this time will be little more involved. The one tool you will want to take with you is the Allen wrench that came with the unit. If you don’t have the one that came with your unit you will be able to use a standard Allen wrench.

On the bottom side of the unit there is a hex shaped hole. You will want to use the Allen wrench and put it in the hole and manually turn the motor shaft counter clockwise a few times then clockwise a few times until the shaft spins freely. Once you remove the clog and the wrench, turn the faucet on to run water.  Then turn the switch on for your garbage disposal. If your unit is running smoothly you are good to go and you have fixed your problem. If not, there is still something else that you will be able to try.

  1. THE REALLY BAD CLOG

If going in to try to fix the clog from the bottom did not work you can try from the top of the unit. Again you still need to make sure that all electricity is off to the unit for your safety. You will need to have a garbage disposal wrench.  This is a special tool that you will use to help you loosen the clog.

You can borrow this from a neighbor or pick one up at your local hardware store. Once you have the wrench you are going to put it down into the disposal from the sink. You will need to rotate the tool until the jaw like part of the tool locks into the cutter wheel of the disposal.

Now you will need to forcefully turn the tool counter clockwise a few times and then clockwise a few times. You may have to do this numerous times in order to clear the jam. Once the clog is cleared and the cutter wheel spins freely, remove the disposal wrench, restore the electricity, run water to confirm that the garbage disposal is operating smoothly.

  1. COMMON CAUSES OF CLOGS

Some of the most common foods that cause the garbage disposal to clog are grease. Even though it is slippery to the touch while warm, as it cools it solidifies and will get stuck in the disposal.

Other foods that will commonly cause your garbage disposal to clog are pasta and rice due to the fact that when added to liquid they will consume the liquid and swell therefore causing a clog. Fibrous foods such as onion skins, celery or cornhusks will also cause a jam in your disposal. In addition, eggshells are better off being put into the trash instead of the garbage disposal.

Another cause of clogs could be that the blades are broken or worn down, making it a difficult to chop up the food. Usually, running water through the system clears up the problem.   If it doesn’t, you’re probably due for replacement blades.

  1. THE LEAKY GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Your garbage disposal is working fine but seems to be leaking. Chances are the actual unit is not leaking but either the hose/pipes or the fittings are what is actually leaking.

These are all easy fixes. Make sure the power is off.  To find the leak start by checking the fittings and tightening them as needed. If this doesn’t solve the leak, you may need to replace the hose or pipe that runs from the sink to the garbage disposal.  If that doesn’t it work it could mean it may require a full appliance replacement, this is something you would need to hire a professional plumbing service to do.

Conclusion

If you take one thing from the article, please let it be that whenever trying to work with water or an appliance whose sole purpose is to emulsify your food waste that no electric is going to the unit. Not only is electricity a danger, but so are the blades that turn food into liquid. Don’t let your hand be the item that the disposal tries to break down! If none of these tips works, or if you know you are out of your depth, go ahead and call your plumber. A professional can be sure to fix it in no time and get your garbage disposal back in working order! 

Get in Touch With Hernandez’s Plumbing Today

Hernandez’s Plumbing serves Miami, Coral Gables, and the rest of the South Florida area. We are a Spanish and English-speaking company so call us now at 305-428-3782 to schedule your appointment or to inquire about our services.

 

 

What to Do If Your Shower Pan Leaks?

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Shower Pan Problems

Shower Pan Problems Can Happen Easily

What to Do If Your Shower Pan Leaks?

First of all, the shower pan is one of the most important parts of your home’s bathroom. The large ceramic, porcelain or plastic basin at the base of your shower is supposed to collect all the water from your shower head and move it down the drain, but things don’t always go as planned.

As durable as your home’s shower pan can be, it’s also extremely sensitive to movement. This movement can lead to cracks in the foundation and water damage. Everyday wear and tear can also ruin your shower pan over time. If you notice pools of water around the base of your shower or water leaking into your home’s foundation, it’s time to call in a professional and have your shower pan replaced.

You can also check out our article on: How to find leaks in your home

Potential Shower Pan Problems

Shower pans are built to last, but all sorts of things can go wrong if the pan was installed incorrectly or if you’ve been using the same pan for decades. These are some of the most common situations that can cause your shower pan to fail. 

Excessive Movement

Under no circumstances should your shower pan be moving. If any movement does occur, the shower pan can crack and leak. These cracks can make room for water to slip out the sides or in between the shower pan and the drain.

Typically, a shower pan is bolted to the beams in the wall when it’s first installed, so the chances of your shower pan moving around are slim to none, but things can go awry if the pan wasn’t installed properly or if the pan is several decades old.

Concrete shower pans are extremely durable and heavy, so these won’t likely budge too much. But plastic shower pans are much lighter and more susceptible to movement. If your home has moved or shifted naturally over the years or if you live in an area with earthquakes or excessive flooding like Miami, there’s a good chance that your shower pan will move around as the years go on. 

Wearing Away Overtime

Shower pans can also deteriorate naturally over time. With all that water coming and going, the caulking on the sides of the pan can start to splinter and leak. This can cause water to go down into your home’s foundation. The caulking used to install the pan isn’t fool-proof, so you’ll want to keep an eye on this part of the bathroom as your home ages. 

Deflection

Deflection is another major warning sign that your shower pan is leaking. If you notice a slope or a curve in your shower pan or in the tile around your bathroom, there’s a good chance that you have a major leak on your hands. 

Testing Your Shower Pan

If you see some water on the floor but you’re not sure if your shower pan is leaking, you can test the integrity of your shower pan on one of your days off. The test takes around eight hours, so make sure that you have some free time on your hands.

All you’ll need is some duct tape, a bucket, and a tape measure. To start, make sure that your shower pan is completely dry. Then cover the drain with several thick pieces of duct tape so that the drain is sealed tight.

Next, fill up a bucket with water and pour some into the shower pan until the water is about 1 inch high. Put a mark on the tub or shower pan to note the water level. Over the next 8 hours if you notice the water level decreasing, your shower pan will probably need to be replaced. 

Brand New Shower Pan

Installing A Brand New Shower Pan Can Be Simple

You Found Water In Your Shower Pan… Now What?

We have a whole article to address fixing a show pan: 7 Fixes For A Leaking Shower Pan

However, there are a few simple things you can do to fix a leaky shower pan. We have included a DIY cost.

Grout repair

Many times the problem can be solver easily. Grout wears out over time, so you can replace the grout completely.

DIY Cost: Between $8 to $20 depending on how much grout you need and the quality you pick.

Apply masonry sealer

If the issue is not the grout, you can apply some sealer and see if the problem goes away.

DIY Cost: Approx. $20 and you will only need a small amount of sealer.

Replace the pan liner

If you have a ceramic shower, you can try to replace the pan liner.

DIY Cost: $75 and it requires some labor and skill. 

Checking for Water Damage

During the test or after you’ve taken a shower, don’t forget to inspect the floor underneath your bathroom. If your shower is on the second floor or higher, carefully inspect the ceilings in the room directly underneath the shower pan. If you notice any dripping or staining, you’ll need to have your shower pan replaced immediately.

A plumbing professional can help as there may be extensive water damage between floors. Want to know the 4 causes of water damage in your home? Click here.

If your shower is on the first floor, you’ll need to crawl under the foundation of your home to inspect the area underneath the bathroom. Use a flashlight to keep an eye out for soggy wood, stains, and leaks. If you notice water damage, you should call a professional plumber immediately.  

Water Can Turn Into Mold

Do not neglect the water damage issues as they can turn into mold. Mold is very hard to contain and to eliminate, so you want to make sure you address issues before mold shows up.

If you found mold in your home, check this article out: I Found Mold In My Home

Contacting a Professional

Replacing your shower pan is not exactly a DIY home improvement project. It usually involves ripping out your existing shower pan. Also you may need to remove the tile walls around the shower, and even the floor boards underneath your bathroom.

Don’t risk doing further damage to your home. Call the professionals at Hernandez Plumbing in Miami to have your shower pan replaced the right way.