Holiday Garbage Disposal No-Nos

Garbage Disposal No-NosYour garbage disposal is a great appliance. It makes cleanup in the kitchen faster and easier by devouring old scraps and leftovers. But as good as it is, it has its limits. Holidays, with extra crowds and heavy kitchen use, can really add stress to the garbage disposal. Everything you put down your disposal goes into your plumbing. As plumbers, we’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff get caught in those pipes. So this year, we’d like to keep you from being one of our service calls for a clogged drain or broken garbage disposal unit. The plumbers at Herrmann Services put together this list.

10 Things to Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Grease – While liquid grease is hot and thin, when it hits those pipes, it cools and thickens coating your pipes. It creates a sludge that other items can get caught in and create a blockage. It’s best to put grease in a jar and dispose of it in the trash.
  2. Bones – Bones are just too hard for the garbage disposal blades to crush. They’ll just keep spinning around and around with the blades and won’t wash down the pipe. Then they will start to stink and you’ll have to dig them out by hand – gross!
  3. Celery – The fibrous strings that run down a stalk of celery get tangled around the disposal blades. They can jam it and cause the motor to fail. If any do get through, they are just the thing to cause a tangle further down the line when they meet other disposal no-nos.  
  4. Coffee Grounds – While they seem harmless, the oil in coffee grounds becomes a sticky sludge and creates the same problem as the grease. Just dump them in the trash or compost instead.
  5. Eggshells – By themselves, eggshells aren’t horrible, but when ground, egg shells become sand-like particles that stick to any grease in the pipes causing buildup and eventually clogs.
  6. Corn Husks – Just like celery, the long, stringy fibers get caught in the blades and can cause a jam.
  7. Artichokes – Artichoke leaves are just too fibrous to be ground up by the disposal blades. Toss these in the trash or compost as well.
  8. Fruit Pits – Fruit pits are extremely hard and can jam the disposal blades.
  9. Potato Peels – While they are not too hard for the disposal to grind up, their starchiness can cause a sticky mess and clogs in the pipes.
  10. Noodles – Just like potato peels, the starch becomes sticky and slimy and can cause problems down the pipe.

If you run into trouble, first try these garbage disposal troubleshooting tips. Here’s hoping your holidays are filled with delicious food and your plumbing runs perfectly. But if you do need help, give us a call at (513) 737-8423.

The Secret Red Button That Could Solve Your Garbage Disposal Problems

Every once in a great while, we stumble across a tip that’s just too handy not to pass on. Lucky for you, today is that day. At Herrmann Services, our plumbers fix dozens of plumbing problems every day. They also know all the tricks of the trade. Today, we’re sharing a garbage disposal tip that just may help you out of a jam (literally) and save you a service call.

When the Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On

Safety reminder: Never put your hand down into the garbage disposal (grinding chamber). Use a wooden spoon or another tool to dislodge anything stuck.

Your garbage disposal is smarter than you think. It is designed to turn off automatically when the disposal gets clogged, if it overheats, or if there is something wrong with the motor. The simple fix you probably didn’t know about is the little red reset button on the bottom of your disposal.

First, make sure the disposal is turned off. Look for a red button underneath the disposal. If it has popped out about a quarter of an inch, simply press it back in and try running the disposal. Sometimes this is all it takes. Don’t forget to check the electrical panel to see if the breaker needs to be flipped back on.  

If the garbage disposal reset button still will not stay in, or if you have to repeatedly reset the breaker, the disposal may be jammed. Read on to troubleshoot a garbage disposal jam.

Garbage Disposal Bottom

When the Motor Hums But Won’t Grind

If the motor hums, but there is no grinding sound, that means the flywheel is stuck. Either the reset button will trip or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off the disposal. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring. Learn about the anatomy of a garbage disposal below:

Parts of A Garbage Disposal

How to Dislodge the Jam

Here’s another handy trick to know about your garbage disposal. You can turn the flywheel from under the disposal as well. Just take the offset wrench that came with the disposal and insert it into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don’t see a wrench, it’s just a simple Allen wrench and you can pick one up from the hardware store. Turn the wrench clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you’ll feel the flywheel turn freely.

Once freed, turn the power back on at the electrical panel and press the reset button before trying the disposal. But don’t turn on the disposal yet. Run water and quickly flip the switch on and off to spin the flywheel, dislodge any obstruction, and rinse it down the drain. If you don’t see an obstruction and the disposal will not run, it may require service or replacement.

10 Things You Should Never Put Down Garbage Disposal

  • Grease – it will coat your pipes
  • Bones – they’ll just keep spinning around and around with the blades
  • Celery – the fibrous strings get tangled around the disposal blades
  • Coffee grounds – the oil in coffee grounds becomes a sticky sludge
  • Eggshells – ground egg shells become sand-like particles that stick to grease
  • Corn husks – the fibers get caught in the blades
  • Artichokes – again, too fibrous
  • Fruit pits – pits are very hard and can jam the disposal blades
  • Potato peels – starchy vegetables and even pasta can cause a sticky mess
  • Your hand – nuff said

If these tips don’t work, call the plumbers in Cincinnati at Herrmann Services and we’ll be there in a jiffy to fix that garbage disposal or replace it if necessary.

Call us at (513) 407-5177 or contact us online.

8 Easy Plumbing Tips to Avoid Plumbing Problems

Easy Plumbing Tips

When it comes to owning a home, simple preventative measures can help you avoid massive problems in all areas of your house. This is especially true for plumbing. Broken pipes and clogged drains can lead to inconvenience as well as expensive repairs. No one wants to deal with water damage. The team at Herrmann Services put this list together to help you avoid plumbing problems before they happen. Follow these tips and hopefully, you won’t have to call us anytime soon.

1. Flush Your Kitchen Drain

Grease and soap can accumulate in your drain. Rather than wait for the drain to back up, treat the kitchen drain with a maintenance product like total-c. Total-c is an environmentally friendly product that helps eat away grease buildup and keep drains open longer.

2. Clean Your Sink and Tub Drains Monthly

Believe it or not, a ninety-nine cent plastic drain stick can save you a lot of trouble. Go to the home improvement store and buy one. It’s a little piece of plastic about a foot long with teeth along either side. These teeth grab hair and other items that build up in your drain and pull them out. Doing this once a month or so will prevent buildup and clogs. Bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers will all benefit from regular cleaning.

3. Inspect Laundry Hoses

Laundry hoses are notorious for causing water damage. They can burst at the worst times (like when no one is home) and flood entire rooms with five gallons of water per minute! Don’t take the chance. Inspect your hoses every few months for cracks, bulges and leaks. Replace them immediately if you see signs of wear and tear. An even better idea is to replace them with metal hoses that won’t burst. Replace the dishwasher hose while you’re at it.

4. Inspect the Water Heater

A leaky water heater is another cause of potential large-scale water damage. Your water heater tank holds 30-80 gallons of water depending on the size you have. If it decides to leak, that’s a lot of water that can do a lot of damage before anyone notices you’re out of hot water and checks. Inspect your water heater for leaks and/or rust. If you notice a leak, call us right away to have your water heater replaced.

5. Unhook Hoses from Outdoor Faucets When It Gets Cold

Even after you turn off the water, there’s some water left in the pipe. When you unhook the hose, this water can drain. If you leave the hose there, it cannot. When it gets cold, the leftover water freezes, which can cause your pipe to crack and could result in a large leak once the outdoor temperature rises. Unhook your hoses before the first freeze is predicted.

6. Reduce Your Home’s Water Pressure

Water pressure makes your pipe joints, faucets, and appliance valves work harder. It’s easy to measure your water pressure with a hose bib gauge, available at the home improvement store for under $20. Attach it to an outside spigot and open the line. Normal pressure is between 40 and 80 psi. If it’s above that range, consider hiring a plumber to install a pressure reducing valve.

7. Know Where Your Main Shut-Off Valve Is Located

In the event of an emergency, you won’t have time to search for the main water shut-off valve. If you don’t know where it is, go find it as soon as you’re done reading this, and make sure everyone in your house knows where it is, too.

8. Clean the Main Sewer Line

Avoid the grossest of all plumbing problems, the sewer backup, by having a plumber run an inspection camera through your sewer every couple of years. It will determine if there are tree roots invading the pipe or possibly buildup that may catch paper and cause a future problem. Finding these issues early can make the solution more cost effective and avoid the high cost of cleanup after a sewage backup.

Hopefully a little preventative maintenance will help you avoid some big problems! Unfortunately, even with our best efforts, leaky pipes, broken water heaters, overflowing toilets, and backed-up drains can happen. When that’s the case, we’re here for you.

 

For the month of September, Herrmann Services will donate a percentage of sales to the Pink Ribbon Girls – an organization created by women with breast cancer to support and empower others who are currently in the fight against breast and reproductive cancers. PRG serves anyone in the greater Cincinnati, Columbus, or Dayton areas who is fighting breast or women’s reproductive cancer. Pink Ribbon Girls provides healthy meals, housecleaning, transportation to treatment and peer support to individuals with breast and women’s reproductive cancers free of charge. Everyone at Herrmann services will be wearing pink shirts for the month of October. We love social media and want to get the word out about the pink ribbon girls so feel free to snap a picture of a tech in pink and tag us.

If you have any plumbing problems, give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online. The Herrmann plumbing team is here to help!

7 Steps to Avoid a Plumbing Disaster While Away on Vacay

Avoid Plumbing Disasters on VacationVacations are great, but returning home to a flooded house or another plumbing disaster is definitely not. Before you leave for several days at a time, take a few plumbing precautions to prevent a disaster. Simply checking on a few appliances before you leave will save you a lot of time, money, and hassle later. Follow these steps and enjoy the peace of mind on your next vacation.

Shut Off the Main Water Valve


Shutting off the main water valve takes seconds, but it is the single most important thing you can do to protect your home from water damage. If one of your appliances springs a leak, a washer hose bursts, or a toilet valve leaks, you won’t have water gushing for days. If a special tool is required to turn the valve on and off, it should be kept nearby.

TIP: Once a year, test the operation of the valve. If it’s frozen or hard to turn, don’t force it—contact a plumber.

Shut Off Individual Appliances if Main Valve Must Stay On


If you have to leave your water supply on, for instance, if you have a sprinkler system that you want to continue to water your lawn while you’re away, make sure to turn off the valves that supply the individual appliances. Include the toilets, washing machine, and individual sinks.

TIP:  Steel reinforced hoses are much safer than rubber hoses. They will not burst. Replace rubber hoses on your washing machine with steel reinforced hoses.

Drain the Lines in Wintertime


If you’re going on vacation in the winter, be aware that pipes can freeze. Make sure the temperature inside the house is no lower than 56 degrees and turn off the main water valve. After you turn it off, open the faucets indoor and the outdoor faucets as well to drain the water remaining in the pipes.

TIP: Leave yourself a note on the main water valve to remind yourself that the faucets are open.

Fix Small Leaks before You Leave


If you notice small drips or leaks, make sure to have them checked and fixed. Minor leaks in water supply lines are often a sign of corrosion you can’t see. This is like a time bomb waiting to burst just when the timing is worst. Pay attention to your water heater too. If there are signs of rust or leaking, the tank is probably corroded and could fail at any time leaving a giant mess.

TIP: Set your water heater to “vacation mode” to keep your heating bill down. Just remember to turn it back up when you return.

Test Your Sump Pump


If you have a sump pump, check to see if it works before you leave for your vacation. In case of heavy rain, you’ll want to be sure your sump pump can remove excess water and keep your lower level from flooding.

TIP: To test your sump pump, simply fill a 5-gallon bucket with water. Take the lid off of the sump pump pit and pour the water in. The sump pump should kick on immediately and drain the water in the pit. If it does not, your sump pump may be broken. Have it checked by a professional.

Check Drains and Garbage Disposal


Be sure to check all of your drains to be sure they’re free of debris and clogs. Turn on your garbage disposal and run some water to be sure there’s nothing left that could create a bad smell while you’re away.  

Tip: Don’t forget to empty all trash cans so you don’t come home to foul-smelling trash.

Have a Neighbor Check In

If you have a trusted friend or neighbor, ask them to take a look around your house every few days, to catch any plumbing emergencies. At the very least, make your neighbors aware of your absence so that when they find the sprinkler system leaking or when other emergencies pop up, they can call you to get it taken care of immediately.

TIP: Cancel your mail and newspaper service or have a neighbor pick it up for you so it is not so obvious that your home is empty.

With a plan in place, you can protect your home and keep your peace of mind while you’re away. Call us today at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online for help with your plumbing.

The One Lesson Holiday Guests Will Teach You about Your Water Heater

Your home runs pretty much seamlessly every day. The furnace keeps you warm. Your washer and dryer keep producing clean clothes. Your toilets flush properly and your TV transmits the shows you love to watch. That’s how it should be! But what happens when you overload the system? This is the time of year when many families discover that having too many people in their home causes some not-so-ordinary problems.

The Water Heater SurprisePlumber Cincinnati

Traditional water heaters have a set capacity. They can hold and heat 30, 40, or even 50 gallons of water depending on which size you own. They do a great job servicing the occupants of your home. However, they can only provide a limited amount of water in a set amount of time. Then, they must refill and reheat the water which can take an hour or more. When there are additional people showering and bathing consecutively, the hot water runs out! Now, you’ve got guests who either can’t take a shower or worse, are caught in the shower when the hot water runs out. Yikes! Not good.

Related Read: Tankless vs Traditional Water Heaters

The Tankless Solution

The above scenario is exactly why we get lots of requests for tankless water heaters after the holidays. The beauty of a tankless water heater is that you get endless hot water. Because the water is superheated on demand, instead of pulled from a tank of preheated water, you can use as much as you want with no restrictions. As long as you have cold water…you have hot water.

Never Run Out of Hot Water

If you’ve ever waited to do a load of laundry in hot water because you were planning to fill a whirlpool tub for a nice long bath, you could use a tankless water heater. With a tankless water heater, you’ll never worry about having enough hot water again. The tankless water heater costs more upfront, but it also saves you money on energy bills because unlike a traditional water heater, which has to keep gallons of water hot 24/7, it only uses energy when hot water is in demand (when the faucet is on).

If you’d like to find out more about tankless water heaters, give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online. The Herrmann plumbing pros will be happy to answer all of your questions.