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Did you know that a cooking fire is more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than at any other time? All those extra guests and increased activity in the kitchen can cause even the most careful cooks to become distracted and, for example, forget about that pie in the oven.

That’s why it’s so important to plan in advance for the safest possible holiday experience, and here are several tips we’re sure you’ll find useful:

  • Make the stove area a kid and pet free zone, keeping them at least three feet away from hot ovens and stove tops.
  • Don’t leave that turkey to roast on its own; leave the errands for another day or leave someone in charge if you must head out of the house.
  • Use a timer to remind you to check on cooking food, especially those that require extra cooking or baking time.
  • Keep pot holders, dish towels, and other flammable items away from the stove top or any other heat source.
  • If you’re thinking of using an outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryer, you may want to reconsider. They can lead to serious oil burns and even destruction of property.
  • Whether you’re using an electric knife, a crockpot, or warming dishes, make sure that cords are out of reach of children.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended, and make sure they too are out of reach of children.
  • Test your smoke detectors and make sure your fire extinguisher is full and ready to go.

Another common Thanksgiving mishap is either a clogged drain or garbage disposal.  Never mind common, they’re rampant!  So much so that plumbers all over America refer to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, too, because it’s our busiest drain cleaning day of the year.  And while Connor Plumbing to lend a helping hand at your home this Thanksgiving or anytime at all, you help prevent any drain or disposal problems by:

  • Keeping grease, fats, and oils out of the drain
  • Grinding up only small amounts of food at a time
  • Placing meat bones and fibrous foods like lettuce and soft vegetables in the trash

From all of us at Connor Plumbing, we hope yours is the best Thanksgiving ever.

Home plumbing problems have a way of sneaking up on you, often at the worst possible time.  Not that there are good times for problems to occur, it’s just that some are worse than others.

Well, no matter when it might occur, doesn’t it make sense to be better prepared the next time a plumbing problem comes calling?  We think so, and now you can be by observing these six plumbing DIY tips:

1. Be on the lookout for water leaks. Small water leaks can lead to big watery messes. So be alert to signs that more trouble is on the way: leaking faucets, damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators all require fast and decisive action.

2. Repair problems early. A leaking faucet isn’t just annoying; the moisture it releases increases the wear and tear on sink fixtures and can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Another way to detect plumbing leaks is to check behind your refrigerator once a month or so.  If you do spot water on the floor, keep in mind that the smaller the amount, the greater the potential problem.  That’s because water could be leaking through your floor into your sub-flooring where, over time, structural damage can occur.

3. Plumbing overflows. If water is gushing from your sink or toilet, turn off either that water supply valve or your home’s main water supply valve.  Don’t exactly where they are?  Now’s the time to find out before you need to act.

4. Locate your sewer shut-off valve.  Your house is equipped with a sewer shutoff valve to help minimize damage from an overflowing toilet.  Find it, learn how to use it, and you’ll save can potentially spare yourself a ton of grief.

5. Learn how to tackle small problems yourself. With a plunger, pipe wrench and a sewer snake, you can take care of a host of small plumbing problems and, in the process, save yourself both time and money.

Still, not all plumbing repairs are of the DIY variety.  Sometimes, only a pro will do, and when that time comes, Connor Plumbing will be on hand to lend all the assistance you need, just as we have been for well over 100 years.

Where do the majority of home injuries occur?  No place other than your bathroom.  That’s because the conditions are ripe for slips and falls, accidental poisoning, drowning, and other preventable mishaps.

As such, we urge you to follow these 10 safety tips to help protect all family members, especially small children and the elderly, the two groups most prone to bathroom-related accidents.

  • Test the water before stepping into the tub or shower to ensure it’s not too hot. Install an anti-scald valve to prevent burns should someone flush the toilet while you’re in the shower.
  • Prevent slips and falls when entering and exiting the bathtub or shower by placing bathmats with anti-slip backings on the floor.
  • Use a weighted shower curtain liner to help prevent water from splattering onto the floor.
  • If upgrading your bathtub or shower, choose one with a textured bottom or install anti- slip strips to your existing tub or shower floor.
  • Install grab bars or handles inside the shower or tub area.
  • Make sure your toilet is high enough to sit on so that you can get on and off easily without needing to reach for balance. You might consider replacing one or more of yours with a comfort-height model.
  • If using a step stool for your children, make sure it has a non-slip bottom.
  • Inspect towel racks and other wall accessories to ensure they are securely installed in case someone needs to grab hold of one to prevent themselves from falling.
  • If you have small children at home, either keep them out of the bathroom or otherwise prohibit their access to a medicine chest or closet.
  • Replace all outlets near a water source with GFCI models to prevent accidental electrical shock or electrocution.

There’s a lot Connor Plumbing can do to help make your bathroom a safer environment for every member of your family.  Contact us today for more information and a free new project quote.

 

Let’s face it, one of the coolest things about acquiring a new laptop, smart phone, stereo receiver, and all the rest is how clean and shiny they all look and feel when they first come out of the box.

The problem is, they don’t stay in that condition for very long. And, of course, the more you handle a particular device like your cell phone or iPad, the nastier it will eventually become.

And while any such device can be cleaned, not just any cleaning agent will do. Right out of the box, you need to eliminate any such product that contains chemicals, oils, and fragrances. These can all do more harm than good.  So what does that mean, that you have to spring for $12 to $15 per bottle for a liquid electronics cleaner because that’s the only common sense alternative?  Nope, not at all.

Because now you can create your own cleaning solution and for just about $1.50 per bottle.  It’s safe, effective, and takes no time at all.  First, you get yourself a squeaky clean plastic spray bottle and pour in equal amounts of distilled water rubbing alcohol.

Then just spray some onto a microfiber or 100% cotton cloth and clean away.  Avoid using paper towels as they can scratch the surface of your electronics.  Also don’t spray the solution directly on the screen. Water can drip inside your device and cause serious damage. Finally, be sure to use distilled water since regular tap water (and even bottled water) contains minerals and other chemicals that can leave telltale deposits on your screens.

Let’s call this another green living solution from Connor Plumbing. Looking for more ways to turn your home into a green machine? We have plenty of ways to help you do just that, including low-flow showerheads and faucets that give you all the water pressure you like while still racking up big savings on the amount of water you and your family consume.

 

Let’s get one thing straight:  there’s no bad time of year for a water heater performance and safety inspection. It just so happens that we perform more of them in the fall than any other time of year.

Part of it’s a back-to-school thing.  You know, like when four or five people all expect and want a hot shower before leaving the house for the rest of the day.  Not to mention the shaving and maybe even starting a load of wash.  Or maybe it’s just that summer’s over and it’s time to get back to some basic home maintenance.

Whatever the reasons might be, having your water heater inspected by a licensed plumber is one of the smartest and safest things you can do.

Here’s just some what goes into one of ours:

  • Visually inspect your water heater for leaks, rust or other problems
  • Check water emergency shut-off valve for safe operation
  • Check the safety relief and emergency shutoff valves to ensure safe operation
  • Ensure thermostat setting and water temperature are at optimal levels for just the right amount of comfort without scalding
  • Inspect the burner assembly and the power supply that’s heating the water
  • If warranted, flush out the system to get rid of any contaminants that could cause internal problems
  • Ensure combustion gases are venting properly for your family’s added safety

It all comes down to ensure the effective and safe operation of your water heater, with a strong emphasis on “safe”.

Has it been a year or longer since your last water heater performance and safety inspection?  If so, contact Connor Plumbing today to schedule service.

More and more we’re being cautioned advised unhealthy ingredients and additives that somehow have managed to infiltrate everyday items of consumption and convenience.  Pesticides in our produce, BPA in plastic food containers, not to mention the fumes and toxic chemicals in household cleaning products.

And while companies and food manufacturers are now listening and responding to consumer demands for safer products, sometimes their actions aren’t as swift or as strong as we might like them to be.

Still, there’s plenty you can do on your own to help make your home a safer and greener living environment, and using vinegar as a substitute for chemical-based cleaners is a really good place to start.

One bottle of vinegar can replace several bottles of chemical cleaners, and here are just a few ways to make it work for you:

  • Swinging a rag through the air that has been dampened in vinegar can quickly eliminate foul odors like cigarette smoke or burnt food. If the odors have infiltrated the entire house, leave a cup or bowl of vinegar in each room.
  • Make your own spray bottle of air freshener by mixing 3 cups water, 1 cup vinegar, and several drops of an essential oil like orange or lemon in a clean spray bottle. Spritz away for a natural, clean, inviting scent without the pricey store-bought stuff.
  • For a streak-free shine on windows and glass, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a clean spray bottle and use just as you would any commercial glass cleaner.
  • Eliminate odors in your refrigerator and clean the inside with a half and half solution of white vinegar and water. And the best part? No rinsing required!
  • Spray undiluted vinegar around window frames and exterior doors to prevent ants from making themselves at home in your house this season.
  • Reduce the spread of germs by spraying full strength white vinegar on doorknobs and wipe dry.
  • Give grease the boot from your kitchen exhaust fan hood, stove top, or non-granite counter by scrubbing with a sponge dipped in white vinegar.

At Connor Plumbing, we bring a lot to the green living table.  From dual-flush toilets to tankless water heaters, low-flow aerators, new high efficiency water heaters, and much more, you and your family can help conserve natural resources without sacrificing even a bit of comfort with Connor Plumbing as your home comfort partner.

Across the US, the average person flushes a home toilet 6 times per day.  Which means, of course, that the average family of four goes through 24 flushes per day, or 168 per week.

Our point?  When a toilet gets flushed often enough, it’s bound to clog sooner or later. Throw small children into the mix, and the likelihood goes sky high when you consider the kinds of things they’re prone to toss in the bowl when parental eyes aren’t taking notice.

So, do YOU have a clogged toilet on your hands and aren’t having much luck busting it up?  Here are a few helpful hints worth trying, hopefully including at least one or two you’ve never tried before:

Turn off the water to the toilet. If you’re concerned your toilet might overflow or it already has, locate the faucet handle behind your toilet and turn it off. Then go back to plunging or whatever you were doing before.  Once you think you might have succeeded, flush the toilet; the water still in the tank is sufficient to the task.

Use a good old plunger and the type with the flanged bottom especially designed for toilets. Pump as hard as you can with multiple repetitions; one or two plunges at a time usually won’t work with a stubborn clog.  Also, wrap an old towel around the base of the bowl to minimize the clean-up afterwards.

Pour stuff in! If plunging alone isn’t getting the job in, try one or more liquid additives like dishwashing soap followed by a pot of boiling water.  The soap lubricates the clog, and the hot water flushes it away.

Be patient and keep trying. Sometimes a clog just needs time to break down. This is especially true of clogs that come from wads of toilet paper. But, since toilet paper is designed to break down in water, a little time might be all the extra help you need.

Right now are you thinking “thanks but no thanks?”  Well, no amount of self-help tips in the world can clear certain toilet clogs.  If you’re currently facing one of those, contact Connor Plumbing for prompt and efficient service with a guaranteed upfront price, and your satisfaction guaranteed.

Whether you’re ready to start swinging a sledgehammer or just thinking about remodeling your kitchen, it’s important to do a little research before making those important design decisions.  Take your kitchen counters, for example.  Not only do you a material that can stand up to knives, hot pots and pans, spills, and everything else your family can dish out, you also want them to look beautiful doing it.

So to help you along, here are the pros and cons of 5 popular countertop materials.

Quartz – Touted as one of the most durable countertop options around, quartz is available in a variety of colors and can even mimic the look of granite. ProsQuartz is stain and bacteria resistant, doesn’t require sealing, and laughs at knife cuts and cracks. Cons - It’s a more costly option and is not as heat resistant as crushed glass and granite. It can also discolor over time in direct sunlight. The lighter the color, the more noticeable the seams.

Granite – Eye-popping, tough, and a favorite among prospective home buyers, granite can easily fit into a world of design styles. ProsIf sealed annually, granite can resist stains and look as beautiful as the day it was installed. It’s also chip and crack resistant and can withstand heat from pots and pans. ConsAlthough it is tough, it’s not indestructible. A hard enough clunk can chip the edge of a granite counter, requiring it to be polished down. If not sealed regularly, it can stain. And because it’s a natural stone with unpredictable variations, an installed slab may look quite different than the sample you picked out.

Recycled Glass – Recycled or crushed glass is an eco-friendly option made from recycled beer bottles, windshields, and traffic lights. It can be set in cement or acrylic. ProsRecycled glass counters are heat, chip, scratch, and stain proof. They don’t need resealing and won’t discolor over time. ConsThey’re pricier than other options like granite and can crack under too much weight. Citrus and other acidic juices can eat away at the acrylic if not wiped up right away.

Laminate – Available in nearly infinite patterns and colors, and more durable than ever before, this is not your grandma’s laminate. Pros It doesn’t require sealing, is stain resistant, and can mimic everything from granite to wood. ConsLaminate counters can scorch, crack, and scratch much more easily than the countertop materials it mimics.

Solid Surface – Solid surface countertops are made from acrylic, polyester resins, and even marble dust. ProsAvailable in many colors and patterns, they’re non-porous and don’t require sealing or special cleansers. If scratched, they can easily be sanded out. ConsIt’s a pricey option and doesn’t have the warmth and charm of quartz or granite. It can scratch and burn easily and is energy intensive to manufacture and difficult to recycle.

You know what all of the above suggests?  That your ultimate choice is probably going to come down what looks and feels the best within your price range.  Isn’t that always the way?  Oh, and if your kitchen project is underway or nearly at that point, why not give us a call.  Here at Connor Plumbing, we can handle any of the plumbing your project requires.  And, if you’re thinking about switching from an electric to a gas range, we also can install a gas connection in your kitchen or anywhere else in your home you might need one.  Contact Connor Plumbing today for a free quote or to request service.

Backflow takes places when water reverses its flow in anywhere in your plumbing systems.  It’s a dangerous condition because it can allow drinking water to become contaminated and unusable.

Backflow preventers are mechanical devices installed in plumbing system to prevent water from reversing its flow. A properly installed, tested and maintained backflow preventer at your water service entrance can reliably help keep your water contaminant free.

The typical causes of backflow are a sudden drop in water pressure brought about by above-normal usage, firefighters using extreme quantities of water in your neighborhood, and a break in the water main.

Backflow also can originate inside your home through a “cross connection” where non-drinkable water (perhaps form your toilet or run-off from your shower) backs up into your drinking water supply, thus contaminating it, through a cross connection.

A backflow preventer, very simply, prevents contaminated water from entering your drinking water supply.  It needs to be professionally installed by a licensed plumber and inspected once a year to ensure it continues to work properly for your family’s protection.

Is your home equipped with a backflow prevention valve?  If not, or even if you’re not sure, contact Connor Plumbing today so we can to locate and test your valve for you.  If you don’t already have one, we’ll give you a guaranteed upfront price to install a backflow preventer in your home, and then set up an annual maintenance schedule.

Your home comfort systems, including your water heater, aren’t just household fixtures – they’re investments.  And like any good investment, the more attention you give it, the more likely you are to increase its value.

One of the best ways to maximize your investment in a steady and sufficient supply of hot water is to flush your system’s storage tank at least once a year to get rid of built-up sediment. That sediment, which results of mineral deposits like calcium and manganese, sits at the bottom of your tank and displaces your hot water volume.  That causes a reduced supply of hot water, plus the formation of calcium, scale, rust, dirt, and iron in the tank bottom.

Here’s how to safely and effectively to flush your water heater:

  1. Turn off the power on your electric water heater.  If you have a gas system, set the temperature dial to vacation or pilot only.
  1. Turn off the cold water inlet valve. It should be near the top on the cold water line entering the tank.
  1. Hook up a garden hose to the bottom of the tank where you see a hose bib. Place the other end of the hose outdoors and be sure to keep it away from anything that could be damaged by the tainted water. The water coming out of the tank is hot, so use extreme  caution!
  1. Open a hot water faucet located near the hot water tank. This relieves the water pressure in the water supply line and tank, allowing air to enter the tank for easy drainage.
  1. Open the hose bib at the bottom of the tank. After the tank is drained once, re-fill it to about half full and drain it one more time.
  1. Make sure the hose bib on the bottom of the tank is closed. Disconnect the hose.
  1. Close the hot water faucet you opened earlier.
  1. Open the cold water inlet valve to the tank. Let the tank fill.
  1. Turn your power back on (electric) or turn the red temp valve (gas) back up.

This isn’t a job for everyone.  Does that include you?  Then contact Connor Plumbing and we’ll be happy to drain and flush your water heater for you.  The important thing is to remain faithful to this task once a year for your system’s peak performance and longer shelf life

         
 

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