5 Tips to Hiring a Quality Plumbing Company

Every home owner tries to be careful about who they let into their home. You want the person you hire to be clean, courteous, knowledgeable...someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart. That’s why quality technicians are so important for home services companies. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you are the right service.

5 Tips to hiring top plumbing techs for your next plumbing emergency
  1. Treating Employees Right - Reputable plumbing, heating an air conditioning businesses are able to attract and retain top talent by providing real benefits – the same benefits you expect from top companies in other industries. Finding out if the company you are calling offers their workers health plans, 401K and/or training incentives. Businesses that do not could experience high turnover rates – often leading to lower levels of training and experience in employees.
  2. Safety First – The right service company will think of their customer’s safety first. Make sure the business you are hiring runs background checks on their technicians.
  3.  Licensing & Insurance – Most states have specific licensing and insurance requirements for home service professionals. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. Make sure the company you are hiring has a license and insurance policy that is up-to-date.
  4. Warranties – Plumbers and Technicians should be able to provide guarantees for their work, including the parts. Ask what warranties and assurances are provided by the business you are planning to hire.
  5. Written Estimates – Reputable companies are confident in the service and knowledge they provide. As such, they will be able to provide reliable quotes and estimates in writing.

Employee compensation, customer safety, warranties and licensing are just a few of the indicators of a trustworthy home services company. However, passing these first few checks is a good indication that the business you are hiring will do their best to hire and retain quality technicians to provide their customers with top-notch service.

For all of your plumbing needs and emergencies, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is here to help!

Holiday Plumbing Care

garbage disposal

The winter holidays are upon us - meaning more time in the kitchen, more guests in the home and a greater strain on your home's plumbing.

This additional use is especially stressful on kitchen fixtures, such as the garbage disposal. However, a few simple tips can help keep your disposal in proper working order throughout the holiday season.

  • Use the disposal properly. Run cold water before turning on the disposal and keep it running until after all of the food is gone.
  • Don't overload the disposal. Avoid sending large pieces of food through they system. Either cut them into smaller chunks or put these items in the trash.
  • Avoid putting glass, rubber, bones or celery into the disposal as these items can damage the blades.
  • Run your disposal frequently to keep the blades from rusting.

To avoid other plumbing emergencies, make sure to address any strange sounds or backups before they turn into bigger problems. It is a good idea to have a plunger on hand to combat sink, tub and toilet clogs.

In case of a real plumbing problem, make certain you are aware of the location of your shut off valve and have the number for a good local plumber.

Should any plumbing issues arise, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is here to help. Call 916-226-4491 now to schedule a safe, courteous, on-time plumber!

The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Refrigerator Odor

Clean your refrigerator day

Are you getting a whiff of bad odors every time you open your refrigerator? If so, it may be time to tackle the smell.

Removing Refrigerator Odor

  1. Discard Old Food - The first step is to get rid of whatever caused the problem in the first place. Check expiration dates on everything in the refrigerator, including condiments and sauces. Throw away anything that has expired - leftovers and any fresh fruit or vegetables that seem to be past their prime. Also consider removing any pungent foods like onions or garlic that easily spread their smell.
  2. Clean the Refrigerator - Scrub all of the shelves. Take drawers out to wash. Clean beneath the drawer slots, doors, water dispenser tray and handle. if the inside of your refrigerator requires a thorough cleaning that will take some time, move foods to a cooler with ice so they don't spoil while the door is open.
  3. Clean the Drip Tray - The drip tray is often forgotten, but is essential to clean from time to time as it contains dirty water which may be causing the bad odor. The drip tray is located beneath the refrigerator. Remove the grill from beneath the doors, carefully pull out the tray and dump the contents. Deodorize the tray by soaking it in baking soda and water after cleaning. Before placing back under the fridge, use a paper towel or rag to wipe up drips of water under the fridge if possible.
  4. Defrost if Necessary - For sever smells that won't go away, try defrosting your refrigerator. This is a good practice to do from time to time as bad odors can condense and mix with the ice inside; the same goes for your freezer. Again, be sure to store your food with an alternative cooling method.

Remove Refrigerator Smell with Natural Ingredients

It's a good idea to stay away from harsh chemicals when cleaning an area in which your food is stored. Use natural ingredients to clean your refrigerator. Here are some ingredients you could use:

  1. Banking Soda - Baking soda is a great long and short term solution. Long term, leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge. This will absorb and deodorize smells. Replace every few weeks. To quickly get rid of smells, spread baking soda on a baking sheet (or a dish with a large surface area), leave it in the refrigerator for several hours and then throw it away.
  2. Coffee Grounds - Used coffee grounds are another surprising remedy to refrigerator odor. Dry off used grounds and then place in bowl or porous bag (such as old nylons). Lave in the refrigerator a few hours up to two days. Be sure to throw the used grounds away in the trash, not down the drain, as coffee grounds clog drains.
  3. Vinegar - Put an open bowl (or cup) filled with white vinegar in the refrigerator. White vinegar can neutralize the odors that come out of the fridge. It can also be mixed with water and used to clean the inside of the appliance.
  4. Oranges - One of the best ways to eliminate odors is to take an orange rind (or other citrus rind such as grapefruit), fill it with salt and place it in the back of the refrigerator. Leave it there until the salt gets completely damp, then throw the whole thing out and replace as needed.
  5. Vanilla - Vanilla extract will also deodorize a refrigerator. Soak fresh cotton balls in vanilla extract and place in a small dish in the back of the refrigerator.
  6. Oats - Leave a bowl of dry oats in the refrigerator for several hours to remove bad odor. The oats will suck in the bad smells and are easily disposed of in the trash.

Prevent Refrigerator Odor

  1. Proper Storage - Be sure to store applicable foods in airtight containers. Don't forget about restaurant leftovers, although they usually come in a cardboard or styrofoam container, repackage the food into an airtight container.
  2. Temperature - It's important to keep your refrigerator at the proper temperature. Too high will make food spoil quicker. Too low is unnecessary and will waste energy, increase utility bills and potentially freeze your foods.
  3. Proper Placement - Refrigerators have designated spots for different types of foods. The crisper drawers at the bottom of the fridge are meant for fresh fruits and vegetables as they maintain moist conditions that help preserve fresh foods. Keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers, as many fruits produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them ripen. Placed next to other vegetables, ethylene can cause premature ripening and make them go yellow, limp or even sprout. Leftovers or foods that expire quickly should be kept at the front of the refrigerator so they don't get shoved to the back and forgotten.
  4. Routine Cleaning - The best preventative measure is to have a clean refrigerator free of spoiled food. Develop a schedule to clean out your refrigerator once a week, or every other week at the longest.

Helpful hint: Label and date your leftovers. You'll always know what's in the container and won't forget what day you brought it home.

Now that your refrigerator odors are cured, what other items in your kitchen need help? For any plumbing issues, be sure to contact us at Hawthorne Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. Our plumbers are ready to assist you with leaky faucets, garbage disposal repair and replacement and any other plumbing emergencies.

Contact our professional plumbers today!

Think Twice Before Using Liquid Drain Cleaners

When you discover a drain that is slow or clogged, calling a plumber might not be your first reaction. After all, using a bottle of commercial liquid drain cleaner is cheaper and requires minimal effort, so why call for professional help?

There are plenty of reasons, actually: your pipes, your health and the often poor performance of liquid drain cleaners, just to name a few.

avoid liquid drain cleaners

Mind the Pipes

Most liquid drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction right inside your drain pipe, often with the help of hydrochloric acid. These reactions typically generate heat, and that heat can do some irreversible damage to the pipe itself.

This is especially true if the cleaner doesn't do a quick or complete job of dissolving the clog, because the liquid chemicals will just sit on top of the clog while the chemical reaction is concentrated on one small section of pipe.

If the pipe is plastic, the high heat could partially melt and deform the material. Metal pipes are more resilient, but the heat can weaken the metal in such a way that cracks and leaks become more likely down the line. This is especially true for older pipes.

Protect Your Health

If drain cleaner chemicals can do that kind of damage to your pipes, just imagine what they can do to you. the fumes released from the use of these products may prove irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

Though not all drain cleaner formulas are the same, some may cause burns if you accidentally get them on your skin. Even worse is if you accidentally get some in your eyes, which is why it's a good idea to always wear safety goggles and avoid splashing if you use these products.

Get Your Money's Worth

Even if you manage to avoid damaging your pipes or compromising your health, there's never a guarantee that a drain cleaner will be effective. And if your clog is caused by anything other than a simple hairball or grease buildup, drain cleaner is unlikely to help at all.

One of the greatest advantages of calling a plumber to clear a drain is the ability to diagnose the cause of the clog. If there's a break in a pipe that's allowing other material to push inside, or if the root cause is located deeper in your drainage system, using a liquid drain cleaner is a complete waste of money.

Try Elbow Grease

Instead of resorting directly to the jug of liquid chemicals, try clearing a clogged drain the old fashioned way: use a plunger. Just be sure to practice proper plunger technique for the best possible results.

If that doesn't work, you may be able to clear the drain on your own using a plumbing snake. There are scaled-down versions that can be powered by almost any electrical drill. They aren't quite as powerful as the ones plumbers use, but they're more than enough for your usual hair or grease clogs.

Do you have a clog that needs clearing? Try the plunger or snake if you're a DIY type, but resist the urge to choose the chemical solution. If you can't extract the obstruction on your own, relying on the expertise of your local plumbing professional is always a preferred option.

RELATED: STILL WANT TO TRY LIQUID DRAIN CLEANER? GO ECO-FRIENDLY!

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

A special thank you to all of our caring neighbors throughout Sacramento, CA from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

neighbors helping neighbors

As we enter the holiday season and our seasonal night of mischief, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing would like to take a moment to recognize the giving spirit of so many of our friends and neighbors who take the time to volunteer their time to their communities.

Thank you!

Clogged Gutters Can Lead to Leaks and Floods

icy roof

If you haven’t pulled out the rake yet this season, chances are it won’t be long. The leaves are already falling and leaving a crisp, colorful mess for you to clean up. But the job isn’t done once you’ve tied off the last bag of leaves from the ground -- there are sure to be plenty more stuck in your home’s gutters.

Cleaning out your gutters may feel like a hassle, but getting the job done twice a year will go a long way toward helping you avoid water damage all over your home, especially at your roof line and in your basement. Read on to learn more about what can go wrong and how to avoid serious problems.

WHAT'S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?

All sorts of debris can land in your gutters. Usually it’s leaves, twigs and seeds, but wind-borne trash like plastic bags can easily end up jamming up the works.

When this happens, the first part of your home in danger of water damage is your roof. Pooling water in your gutters can rot your fascia, shingles and the edge of your roof line.

During heavy rains, water will eventually spill over the top of the gutter and hit the ground right next to your home. This can cause a trench to form along the edge of your home, affecting grass growth and leaving a wet, muddy mess. During the summertime, this may even attract mosquitoes and other insects that breed in water.

But the biggest problem with overtopped gutters is that the water will saturate the soil right next to your home’s foundation. This can put enormous pressure on the foundation and the walls of your basement, causing cracks that will grow over time. Basement leaks and even floods can directly result from these breaches.

CLEANUP TIME

Most homeowners can take care of their gutters with just two thorough cleanings each year: one in fall and one in spring. But homes with many nearby trees may need more than one cleaning in fall, and it’s important to always keep an eye on your gutters during rainfall to spot signs of clogs or overflowing.

Cleaning your own gutters is easy but messy. It also involves standing on a ladder, so it’s not a great task for those with mobility problems or a fear of heights.

To clean your gutters, begin by observing ladder safety -- make sure your ladder is placed on level ground and properly locked in place. Wear comfortable, non-slip shoes.

Hook an empty bucket to the top of the ladder to collect the debris you remove. Wear work gloves, and consider taking along a handheld garden tool like a trowel or hand rake. These can be helpful for scraping waterlogged sludge from the bottom of the gutter.

When the gutter is clear, use a hose to wash it clean and watch to ensure it’s flowing freely through the downspout. If it’s not, you have a clog in the downspout that needs clearing. Use your garden hose at full pressure to hose out the downspout from the bottom up. You might need to remove the bottom section of the downspout to do this. If the hose doesn’t work, a plumbing snake will almost always get the job done.

If gutter problems end up causing moisture issues in your basement, don’t wait to address the situation -- it will only get worse. Reach out to your licensed local plumbers without delay.

7 Helpful Drain Cleaning Tips

drain-cleaning-tips

Drain cleaning should be your top priority this fall if you suspect your plumbing system is on the verge of a massive clog. While many homeowners often take the drains in their home for granted, this can prove to be a costly mistake, as they may lose access to essential plumbing fixtures and pay more on utility bills.

Even if you think that small drain clog isn't too much of a problem, think again. One of the traps homeowners will put themselves in is overlooking the severity of a clog, leaving them much worse for wear when it prevents their entire plumbing system from working at its best. Allowing even just one drain clog can lead to issues like higher costs on utility bills, decreased levels of sanitation, and bad sewer odors that will permeate through your entire home. Worse, when you consider how much you rely on toilets and sinks every day, it can be a real detriment in terms of how you function in your home when they are not so readily available due to frequent clogging.

Instead of experiencing all of these setbacks, opt to take a proactive stance on clogs and get them fixed when you first notice trouble.

TOP 7 DRAIN CLEANING TIPS

While Radiant can provide top-notch service on your drains, you can also do your share in preventing clogs by following a few simple steps. The next time you feel your drains are about to clog, please take note of these 7 drain cleaning tips:

  1. Store Grease in a Container: One common mistake homeowners make is throwing cooking grease down the drain. This can result in some negative consequences. The grease will actually stick to the walls of your drains and harden, allowing for a massive clog to form. Instead of facing this possibility, you should instead store grease in a container before throwing it away in the garbage.
  2. Do Not Rely on Chemical Drain Cleaners: Chemical cleaning solutions are often the go-to for homeowners who are looking to fix drain clogs as soon as possible. However, a reliance on these solutions can actually damage the plumbing system over time and leave you calling us for pipe repair. Only use chemical drain cleaners sparingly and instead rely on more organic solutions.
  3. Consider Strainers: Are you tired of sinks in your kitchen and bathroom getting easily clogged by pieces of food, hair, and soap? In that case, you should definitely consider installing strainers which keep any of these materials out and allow your sink drains to work without interruption. Though they will need to be cleaned out periodically, they are one of the simplest clog-stoppers you can find.
  4. Use a Plunger: If your home is not yet equipped with a plunger, you need to run out and get one now. It is one of the most important tools to have in your home in the event of a last minute clog, especially for any minor clogs in your sink or toilet.
  5. Use a Drain Snake: A plunger can do a lot of good but for areas a plunger cannot reach, you should use a drain snake. It can scoop out any materials in areas plungers often can’t reach, and has a snake-like form allowing it to fit in even the tiniest of spaces. However, use it carefully or else it may force you to spend additional money on pipe repair.
  6. Boiling Hot Water: Hot water boiled from a pot or tea kettle will loosen up any substances sticking within your drains and make it easier to rid them. This is especially helpful for any grease or oil buildup within your drains, which can harden and become extremely difficult to remove.
  7. Call for Annual Drain Cleaning: You should always make it a point each year to call Radiant for an annual drain cleaning. We can have one of our plumbers inspect your drains carefully so they can eliminate any lingering drain problems before they worsen. Thanks to our effective plumbing maintenance, you can guarantee a clog-free plumbing system for the next 12 months. 

DON’T GET CAUGHT IN A PLUMBING EMERGENCY – SCHEDULE A DRAIN CLEANING SERVICE TODAY

Pro Plumbing Tips - Top 3 Plumbing Problems

Top 3 Plumbing Problems - Pro Plumbing Tips

THE LEAKY TOILET

The flapper may be corroded or damaged, the fill valve broken or the chain is too long or short.

If the toilet flush arm chain only has one inch of extra chain, unhook it and adjust. Check the be certain the rubber flapper (connected to the toilet flush arm chain) is covering the hole where the water comes in. If it isn't, attach it firmly in place. If it is in place, unclip it and check for erosion or damage. If the flapper is damaged, it will need to be replaced.

If the water level is higher or much lower than the water level line on the inside of the toilet, you'll need to adjust the float arm. More modern toilets often have fill valves in place of the float arm. When adjusting a modern, ball-less fill valve, look for a verticl arm just off the main body of the fill valve. Either squeeze the clip, move the arm up or down or use a screwdriver to loosen or adjust the bar. When working with a float arm that has a ball, gently bend the arm to adjust it into place.

THE LEAKING FAUCET

With time, age and use, the washer or o-ring eventually needs to be replaced.

Remove the caps on the faucet to reveal the screws and tighten the screws slightly. If the faucet is still leaking, take it apart to look for any parts that are damaged such as the washers or o-rings may need to be replaced. Replace any damaged parts with an exact replacement before reassembling the faucet with the new part(s).

THE CLOGGED DRAIN

Too much matter can create a clog in the pipes.

A good plunging may solve the issue. If not, a plumbing snake may be able to break up the blockage.

Fire Safety and Prevention for Homes and Water Heaters

fire prevention tips

Sunday, October 9, 2016 is National Fire Prevention Day. To help promote fire safety for your home and family, here are a few tips from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

  1. Check Your Smoke Alarms – Smoke alarms have proven to reduce the chances of dying in a fire by close to 50 percent. In order to keep these life-saving devices in operation, be certain to test them once per month and replace batteries at least once per year. Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of the home as well as outside sleeping areas. The devices themselves have a lifetime of 10 years. Any alarms older than 10 years should be updated ASAP.
  2.  Ensure Your Water Heater is Properly Vented and Serviced – Keep clothing away from the water heaters – especially gas heaters – as the heat and burners from the appliance can ignite fabrics. Appliances, such as clothes dryers and gas water heaters,  cause around 7 percent of home fires and 4 percent of deaths. Ensure cover plates are in place on water heaters and mark a 3 foot zone around the appliance as a “combustible-free” zone.
  3. Have a Fire Plan -  Fire plans should be built and practiced to make certain everyone is fully aware of the process in an emergency. Utilizing games and drawings can help make the plan more memorable for children.
  4. Don’t Overplug – Avoid placing a large number of cords into any electrical socket. Overloaded circuits are a common fire hazard.

Follow these home safety tips to help prevent fires in your home today and in the future! For further questions on water heaters and plumbing safety, contact your friendly local plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.