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  • Tips on How to Clean Your Dishwasher | Roto-Rooter

    How to Clean your Dishwasher to Look Brand New Again

    By Paul Abrams

    A dishwasher's very existence is to clean your dirty dishes, so it's probably not the first (or second) place that you'd think of when it comes time to clean your kitchen. It is necessary to give this appliance some scrubbing from time to time. Here are a few ways to do so:


    You'd think that a dishwasher would naturally clean itself as it takes the food particles off your plates and bowls. In reality, it can use a good soak in something other than soap. This is where vinegar comes in. Dishwashers have a filter that keeps food particles from getting into the system. Remove this and soak it in white vinegar for 10 minutes. Then, put the filter back and add a cup of vinegar to the bottom of the appliance. Turn on the heavy cleaning cycle and let the acidic bubbles do their job. You'll be happy to find that funky smell is gone when you open the door after the wash cycle is complete.

    Take it apart

    There are small parts of your dishwasher that need to be cleaned by hand. To start, remove the racks by gently pulling them off their tracks. This gives you easy access to the bottom part where the spinning mechanism helps disperse water throughout the device. Use a toothpick to gently pick out any detritus that you can spot in the holes where the water comes out. Next, take a look at the drain. This part is complex and therefore can get food bits stuck in it. Use a toothbrush or your fingers to remove any particles or debris that you spot. You can even scrub it with a toothbrush, a little water and some baking soda. Also give the utensil holder a good hand washing. Now, put the racks back in and enjoy your freshly scoured dishwasher.

    Is it time to replace?

    If your dishwasher is past its prime and you’re ready to have a new dishwasher installed, watch this video. Otherwise, remember that one of Roto-Rooter’s professional plumbers can install or repair a dishwasher for you so you’ll have the confidence that it was done right and will serve you well for years to come.

  • How to Plunge a Toilet | Roto-Rooter

    How to Plunge a Toilet like a Plumber

    Let’s face it, the toilet plunger is a necessity in every household, every office and every place that has a toilet or two. Clogged toilets happen, it’s a fact of life and the plunger is a very useful tool for unclogging a backed up toilet.

    So why are so many people using a plunger incorrectly? And why are so many using the wrong kind of plunger? We asked ourselves that question and decided to produce a video to show everyone how to plunge a toilet like a plumber. The first thing a plumber would recommend is to take steps to ensure the bowl won’t overflow onto the bathroom floor before or during the plunging process.

    A plumber will also tell you that many homes and businesses are equipped with what they think is a toilet plunger but in fact, they’re really using a sink plunger. Sink plungers work great on sink clogs but they aren’t particularly effective on clogged toilets. That's because the cup design is too shallow to move enough water and air to unclog a toilet – without a lot of extra work. And the handle on most sink plungers is short for working on sinks that are waist high, not toilets that are knee high.

    Plunging techniques can determine the outcome. For such a seemingly simple device, far too many of us are not using the proper plunging technique to successfully unclog a toilet. After you’ve dispensed with the sink plunger and located an actual toilet plunger, getting a proper seal between the plunger cup and the toilet drain in the next step. Then six to 10 powerful thrusts will usually push soft clogs beyond the toilet trap and into the branch drain.

    It’s much easier to watch our quick video on plunging clogged toilets than to read each step, so follow the link and view the video for yourself.

  • There's a way to move your toilet if it's too close to the wall

    Sometimes building contractors make mistakes. They built the walls in a friend's bathroom too close to the waste stack pipe in the floor. As a result, when the toilet was seated by the plumbing contractors, it turned out to be too close to one of the side walls. It was uncomfortably tight. They lived with it for years but now they're remodeling the bathroom and wonder if it would be a significant plumbing repair to fix the toilet.

    I told them about the offset toilet flange, which can have the effect of correcting a builder's mistake by allowing the toilet to be moved over a few inches without having to move the waste stack pipe in his concrete foundation, which would be among the more expensive bathroom plumbing solutions.

    The offset flange is a great invention. I've heard from a few plumbers who think the offset angle restricts water flow and results in a less powerful flush, but even if that were true, there are more powerful flush valves that will help overcome such concerns. I think the offset is a toilet fix breakthrough. I wish I'd thought of it.

  • Fixing a Leaky Kitchen Faucet Can Save Money | Roto-Rooter

    A noisy kitchen leak can be an annoying presence in your home. The incessant plunk of the water landing in the sink may slowly drive you crazy, and to make matters worse, it can also run up your water bill.

    You might be thinking that a little drip isn't wasting much. However, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's drip calculator, if one faucet in your home releases 10 drips per minute, you'll be losing over 300 gallons of water a year. Don't let something as small as a leaky faucet make you spend more money than you need to. Instead, gauge whether you can fix the problem yourself or if you need to call in a plumber.

    Common leak fixes

    The first thing you should do is shut off the hot and cold water supply valves beneath the sink. Turn the valves to the right to turn off the water flowing into the faucet. If you forget this crucial step, you'll really spring a leak when you start removing pieces from the spout. Once you've shut off the water, you can move on to the main repairs.

    A common problem that might be causing a leaky kitchen faucet is a worn-out rubber washer, gasket or seal inside the valve assembly. Replacing these worn parts should fix your issue, but you have to carefully disassemble your faucet to reach it. Keep track of each part and where it goes. Taking photos with your smart phone along the way may help to keep you organized.

    The faucet aerator is another piece of the nozzle that could be contributing to a leak. To check if this is the issue, unscrew the aerator from the end of the faucet. Clean off any particles that may be attached to the aerator threads and filter screen. You could also turn the water back on for a minute to clear any obstructions from the spout. Return the aerator to its proper location and see if the spigot is still leaking.

    If your leak persists, it's probably time to call in a professional to fix a leaky faucet. Yes, you could continue to solve the problem yourself and take the faucet apart. However, if you don't entirely know what you're doing in fixing a leaky faucet, you run the risk of causing more problems than you solve or at best, wasting a lot of your valuable time.

  • Four Ways to Fix Low Water Pressure Now | Roto-Rooter

    Four Ways to Fix Low Water Pressure NowTurning on a shower or faucet only to find the water comes out in a sad, slow drizzle is never a good feeling. How exactly are you supposed to wash a pan or take a quick shower when it takes 10 minutes just to rinse off a little soap? The good news is that when there's low water pressure, there's always a cause: typically one that can be easily fixed. Here are some of the most common causes of low pressure and what you can do to fix the issue:

    Debris and mineral deposit buildups
    If you notice low water pressure from just one or two of the fixtures in your house, the problem likely has to do with debris buildup. Water is full of minerals and other debris, all of which can accumulate in your pipes and on your fixtures. This can cause a blockage that affects how much water flows through. To fix this, try filling a small plastic bag with white vinegar, and use a rubber band to hang it around your showerhead or faucet. Let the head of the fixture soak for a few hours, and the vinegar should loosen the deposits.

    Water leaks
    Leaks are another common cause of low water pressure. If water is flowing out of your plumbing through a hole or crack before it can reach your fixture, the pressure coming out of the faucet or showerhead will be lower. A plumbing professional is your best bet for finding and repairing a leak in your water supply pipes.

    A valve issue
    If you have low water pressure throughout your home, check your main shut-off valve to make sure it's completely open. You may also want to see if there's a pressure-reducing valve installed. If there is, have a plumber help you adjust the settings to get the pressure you're looking for.

    Others using water
    Believe it or not, your low water pressure could be caused by your neighbors. If you notice low pressure at certain times of day, it may be because you and the people living next to you have similar schedules - when everyone is showering at the same time, the pressure will be lower in every home. Low pressure throughout the neighborhood may also be caused by an issue with your municipal water supply. If that's the case, call the supplier to see if they're working on the issue.

  • How to Repair Your Washing Machine When it Over Flows

    When your washing machine stops working correctly, it can put a serious crimp in your laundry routine.

    Doing laundry isn't exactly a fun activity (well, not for most people, anyway), but it's a necessary household chore. That's why, when your washing machine stops working correctly, it can put a serious crimp in your laundry routine. Most of us depend on our washers and dryers to do the heavy lifting for us - it's not really feasible to wash everything by hand. So, if your washer is over flowing, here's what you can do to fix it:

    1. Turn off the electricity

    Remember that any time water starts flooding in your home - especially when it involves something electrical - it can be very dangerous for you, not to mention any kids or pets that could be running around. The first thing you should do is turn off the electricity that runs to your washing machine directly from the fuse box. It's not a good idea to touch or unplug the machine's power cord when there's water everywhere.

    1. Troubleshoot

    There are a few common reasons your washing machine may be overflowing. Here are some things you can check:

    • Pressure switch: The pressure switch is what's responsible for sensing when the machine is full enough, and it can become clogged, which makes it stop working. Remove the electrical panel to see if your pressure switch needs to be cleaned or repaired.
    • A kinked drain hose: If the flexible hose behind your washing machine is folded, it could cause water to back up. Keep your washing machine about 4 to 6 inches away from your wall to keep this from happening.
    • A clog: Clogs in the drain pipe or pressure tube may be the culprit - a drain snake can fix the problem.
    1. Fix the issue

    Many washer overflow issues are easily fixed, but if you aren't sure what the problem is or how to repair it, don't worry. Give Roto-Rooter a call and we'll send a plumbing professional your way.

  • Daylight Saving Time Should Trigger Plumbing Inspections & Repair

    Daylight Saving Time Should Trigger Plumbing Inspections at Home

    By Paul Abrams

    Though it feels like we’re still in the depths of winter, Daylight Saving Time will prompt us to spring our clocks forward on Sunday March 8, 2015. Besides adjusting your clock, homeowners should use the occasion to inspect a few plumbing fixtures around the house as part of spring maintenance. Sure, you could do these maintenance checks any time of the year but it’s a lot easier to remember to do them when you associate the tasks with the time change event.

    Drain your water heater tank. If you want to extend its life span beyond the 11 year average, you should drain sediment from the tank on an annual basis. This is especially important if you have hard water. It’s not terribly difficult but there are some safety precautions you should consider, such as shutting off the power to the water heater. Rather than list each step in this blog, it’s more efficient to refer you to this step by step video hosted by a Roto-Rooter Master Plumber. The visual elements will make the process easier and safer.

    Second, inspect your washing machine hoses for stress cracks, soft spots and bulges to reduce the risk of a flood. Rubber hoses should be replaced every three years. We recommend replacing them with braided stainless steel hoses, which last five to seven years.

    Third, inspect water supply lines connected to your refrigerator’s ice maker. Braided stainless steel lines are a good replacement idea, especially if the appliance is more than five years old.

    Inspect water connections to dishwashers, water softeners and other appliances to reduce the risk of accidental flooding. This video will show you what to do. And it also has some other flood avoidance tips that will prove helpful before we go into the spring rainy season.

    If your house is equipped with a sump pump for removing water from basements and crawl spaces, now is a great time to test it and make sure it’s working. Pour a few buckets of water into the sump pit. If your pump is operating properly, it will turn itself on when the water level rises, pump out the excess water then turn itself off automatically. If the primary pump runs often and is more than five years old, you may want to replace it. If it rarely turns on, chances are that your pump will last 7-10 years before it needs to be replaced. The bottom line is that you should replace the sump pump on your own terms and that means doing so before it fails and allows your basement to flood. And you should seriously consider installing a battery backup sump pump that will prevent flooding if the primary sump pump fails.

    Not everybody is equipped with the necessary do it yourself skills to complete these tasks. But an experienced Roto-Rooter plumber can complete them if you can’t. You can schedule a visit at a time that fits your schedule by visiting the Roto-Rooter website or calling 1-800-ROTO-911 (1-800-768-6911).

  • Start the Year off by Fixing Annoying Plumbing Leaks

    A new year means a fresh start. As plumbing company that visits thousands of American homes each day, we’re amazed by the number of leaks there are in a typical household. We’re talking about water leaks that people have simply learned to live with. Too many homeowners just ignore dripping faucets, showers and tubs if they can’t fix the leaks themselves. We’ve seen tub spouts
    that are beyond dripping, they’re actually pouring a steady stream of water right down the drain. Sure, it’s a trickle most of the time, but that water ads up quickly and is costing the homeowner a lot of money in water and sewer bills. This helpful infographic demonstrates how leaks add up.

    Consider a faucet that drips 30 drops per minute, which is quite common. That faucet is wasting ten liters per day. That’s like five of those large 2 liter soft drink bottles. Over the course of a year, that faucet is wasting 1,041 gallons of water! To see how much water your leak is wasting, simply count the drips for one minute then visit the USGS Drip Calculator on-line and enter the information. It even allows you to add multiple leaking faucets into the calculation and determine how much water all of the plumbing leaks in your house are wasting.

    Toilet leaks are common too. If your toilet is “running,” it is leaking. A leaking toilet is a huge waste of water, sometimes accounting for hundreds of gallons per week! Many toilets have silent leaks. To test your toilet for leaks, there are two easy methods. First, drop a few drops of red food coloring in the tank. Wait fifteen minutes then look in the toilet bowl. If the water in the bowl has turned red, you have a leak. Another easy way to test is to open the tank, drop a pinch of flour or baby powder into the tank. Watch it closely and see if it begins to drift toward the overflow tube and disappears. If so, you have a silent leak that is wasting water and costing you money. Why not hire a plumber
     to fix those leaks once and for all? You’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run and you’ll be doing something helpful for your community, your country and even the planet. Fresh water is a precious resource that we should not take for granted.

  • Water Emergency? What to do Until Help Arrives | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Water ER? What to do until help arrives!

    Whether it’s a burst pipe or a water heater mishap, few situations are more unnerving than watching a massive amount of water pour into your home. Even a smaller leak is nothing to snort at. The plumbing and water restoration team is on the way… but what do you do until help arrives? Here are some tips from ROTO-ROOTER’s Minneapolis plumbing experts:

    • Safety first. If you don’t feel safe in the house, get out! There could be a danger of slipping and falling, not to mention electrical hazards.
    • Shut off the main water valve immediately. Obviously, it’s good to know ahead of time exactly where the shutoff valve is located.
    • If it’s safe inside, start removing excess water by mopping and blotting the floors. Be sure to wipe water from wood furniture to keep it from getting damaged – and prop up wet upholstery and cushions for drying.
    • Create a barrier between soaked carpet and furniture legs (use a margarine container or lid, aluminum foil, wood blocks, etc.). Make sure there are no books, magazines, rugs or other colored items that can “bleed” on the carpet.
    • Don't use the TV or household appliances and don’t use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. If a room’s ceiling is sagging, don’t go in!
    • Do NOT use your household vacuum to remove water.
    • Get the air circulating. Use ceiling fans (but not if the ceiling is wet) or A/C in the summer to begin the drying process.
    • Put family heirlooms, art and other pricey objects in a safe, dry place.
    • Hang wet fabrics and leather items out to dry.

    Of course, it’s best to research plumbers/water restoration experts ahead of time – that way, you’ll have a phone number on hand before an emergency ever strikes!

    For more Minneapolis plumbing tips, water restoration advice, or instructional videos, visit ROTO-ROOTER Minneapolis and our Google+ page.

  • Choosing the Right Plumbing Parts

    Plumbing problems happen to the best of us and cannot be prevented. In the event of a problem, it is important that you hire a professional plumber and choose the right parts and equipment to ensure that the job is done right the first time. When it comes to large materials, such as drain and sewer cleaning equipment, a plumber will need to complete the work because this is not something that you can easily purchase on your own.

    If you hire a professional plumber to meet your needs, you have a say on the parts that they use. Make sure to let them know upfront about the particular parts you need so that they can order any items necessary. If you are pursuing a plumbing project on your own, it is especially important that you choose the right products for the job.

    Choose Quality American-Made Parts

    Most plumbers outsource their equipment manufacturing to China. However, it is best to choose quality parts that have been made in America. For instance, Roto-Rooter manufactures their own drain and sewer cleaning machines in Iowa to ensure that their equipment can withstand the challenges of typical and complex plumbing projects.

    Always Choose Value Over Price

    Plumbing problems appear out of nowhere and can take any homeowner by surprise. Nobody wants to pay for the necessary repairs and they especially don’t want to pay more than necessary for the required parts. While it is important to choose products that can fit within your budget, it is more important to choose value over price because quality parts will last longer and provide a better value for your investment.

    Leave the Installation to Your Plumber

    Most plumbing companies can provide the quality parts necessary to get the job done on the spot. If you are unsure of which parts are necessary to complete the project, call your local plumbing contractor. They should be able to recommend the right parts for whatever type of project you are tackling. While you can also get a recommendation from the sales staff of your local hardware store, a plumber can provide you with more reliable information that you can count on.

    Even if you choose and purchase your own plumbing parts, it is usually best to hire a licensed plumber to install them for you. This will ensure that they are installed and set up properly so that they can meet your needs and expectations over time.

    For more information, call your local Roto-Rooter todayl

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