Anyone living in St. Louis like us, are all too familiar with the fact that our temperatures get below freezing, and then will quickly rise the next day. When water freezes, it expands, which causes pipes to burst because the water has no place to go during expansion. People living in mobile homes and trailers are especially prone to freezing pipes.
*Preventing this expensive plumbing nightmare is a much better alternative than needing to completely replace your pipes, among other expensive damages that could occur during a pipe burst. Here are a few things you can do when the temp drops to freezing:
*Let the faucet located furthest from the water source slowly drip during those freezing temps. This drip allows movement of water within the pipes, and can help control the freezing.
*Wrap heat tape on the pipes located in crawl spaces can also help to prevent freezing. Foam rubber sleeves and insulation works well, also. If you choose this method, make sure that you always insulate both hot and cold pipes.
If your pipes become frozen, but have not yet burst, here are some tips to follow to thaw them.
*Never use an open flame or torch to thaw frozen pipes! This is a major safety hazard, as you are typically working in tight spaces, and this could cause a fire.
Instead, lets attempt to thaw frozen pipes by placing a space heater or hair dryer as close as possible to the frozen pipes. Open a faucet to allow steam and ice to escape.
If its just too late and your pipes have already burst, call Eureka Plumbing. We will try to help make this as easy on you as possible.
Tip 1 - Citrus Burst
Cut a lime or lemon into quarters and put the the slices into your disposal one at a time with the cold water running and your garbage disposal on. Your disposal will smell like citrus heaven.
Tip 2 - Vinegar and Baking Soda
Deodorize your disposal by sprinkling some baking soda from your fridge into the disposal; just enough to cover the inside. Pour 1/2 a cup of vinegar over the baking soda. Give it an hour or so to work its magic, then turn on the cold water and the disposal for a few minutes.
Tip 3 - Vinegar and Ice
Fill up some ice trays with a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. Once the vinegar cubes have frozen put a few of them into your disposal. Turn on the cold water and your disposal at the same time to grind up the ice cubes. Not only does your disposal smell better but you have sharpened the teeth of your disposal at the same time.
Tip 4 - Avoid Food Build-Up
Avoid having food and garbage build up inside your disposal by disposing of your food properly. When using your disposal, always let the water to run at full force while the food is being ground up. If water is not flowing into your disposal while food is being processed slurry can build up on your disposal which can create bacteria and unpleasant odors.
Tip 5 - Flush with Soapy Water
About once a week, fill your sink with hot, soapy water, and turn on your disposal as it drains. This will help flush food from the disposal.
Tip 6 - Disinfect your Disposal
About once a month follow the steps in the tip above, but fill your hot, sudsy water with 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach. If you don't care for the odor of bleach, a commercial disinfectant will work great, too.
PLEASE NOTE: Before you decide to perform any of these tips, please note that these are all suggestions and are not guaranteed to work. If you have have any hesitations at all, please call us first to come assess the situation.
Step 1 - Plunge It
The easiest method in unclogging a slow drain is simply to plunge it. You will need to have a little water in the sink in order for this to work. Any type of plunger will work, and specific sink plungers can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot. A sink plunger is slightly smaller than a toilet plunger and is a bit easier to work with. Please Note: Plunging may not completely remove a clog that is causing a slow drain, but it can dislodge it making it easier to deal with.
Step 2 - Use Dish Soap
If the plunger didn't work, you can try to use a dish soap with a degreaser in it, like DAWN. You will need to use at least 24 ounces, just pour it down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes. Flush the drain for about 30 seconds with hot water. DAWN will help to break down the buildup that causes a slow drain, and the hot water will help to flush away the build up.
Step 3 - Homemade Drain Cleaner
You can easily make a drain cleaner with baking soda and vinegar. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain first, followed by 1 cup of vinegar into the drain. Allow this mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, then flush with about a gallon of boiling water. Be cautious when using boiling water on a slow drain. Pour slowly so the water doesn't splash out of the drain.
Step 4 - Use an Enzyme Active Drain Cleaner
If the tips above have failed, wait a day or two and try a commercial drain cleaner that uses an enzyme to eat away at any residue that may be causing a slow drain. Home Depot sells a good one called ZEP. The enzymes can take as long as 24 hours to work completely, so be sure you won't need to use the drain for at least a day. After the sitting period is over, you will simply flush the enzyme with water.
Step 5 - Check the Trap
Hair and other debris can get stuck in the U-shaped pipe under a sink. Removing this trap is easy, just make sure to place a bucket under the trap before you take it apart. This will catch anything stuck in the drain and prevent water from getting all over the place. Use a wrench to loosen the metal slip nuts, then finish taking them off by hand. Once the nuts are off, you can remove the trap. Clean the trap out, and re-install it the same way you took it apart.
Step 6 - Call a Plumber
If none of these methods have worked, it may be time to call us. Slow drains can be caused by problems that are not always an easy fix, though there is no harm in troubleshooting. Give us a call and we will have one of our master plumbers out to assess the issue.