Preparing Your Plumbing For The Holidays

.

 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, your kitchen and bathrooms will inevitably experience an increase in occupancy. Additional usage around the holidays puts more pressure on your plumbing system and the last thing you want to deal with is a backed-up kitchen sink or a clogged toilet. See below for plumbing tips to avoid having a holiday emergency!

 

Clogged Drains

  • DO NOT pour grease or cooking oil down the drain! Wait for it too cool and then dispose in the trash

  • Use a sink plunger to clear food and debris from the drain

  • Rinse sink with extremely hot water. Heat may break up compounds and clear soap scum

  • Refrain from using drain cleaning products like Drano. The chemicals are toxic and can damage pipes

     

Clogged Toilets

  • Do not flush unflushable items. Baby wipes, cotton swabs, dental floss and paper towels should be thrown in the garbage, not the toilet

  • Use a plunger to fix clogs. If this does not work, try a “snake”

  • If you have a cesspool and it hasn’t been pumped out in a while, it may be time. A full cesspool can make it difficult for a toilet to flush properly

Hopefully your Thanksgiving, your drains and your toilets will run smoothly this holiday season. If a problem does happen to arise and you are not able to fix the problem on your own, give Uptown a call! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

.

What better way to kick off the holiday season than showing off your artistic ability and uniqueness with extravagant lights and decorations? The weekend after Thanksgiving has been dedicated to decorating homes across the world for years, so Uptown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling wants to make sure you and your family stay safe while putting up decorations.

 

 

See the checklist below for Holiday Decorating Safety Tips from ESFi.

 

Christmas Tree Safety

  • Place tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources

  • Get rid of any lights with broken or worn cords or loose connections

  • Never connect more than 3 strands of incandescent lights together

  • Turn off all lights before going to sleep

  • Water tree daily

     

Electrical Cord Safety

  • Only purchase cords from authorized retailers - the cord should have a certification from (UL), (ETL) or (CSA)

  • Do not overload extension cords

  • Keep all outdoor cords clear of snow and standing water

  • Do not run cords through walls, doorways, ceilings or floors

     

Outdoor Decoration Safety

  • Make sure all extension cords and electrical decorations are marked for outdoor use

  • Fasten lights securely to trees, the house or firm supports

  • Inspect ladders for loose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts before using

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices

  • Turn off all decorations and lights before going to sleep

We want you and your family to have a very safe and happy holiday season. Please exercise extreme caution when putting up decorations. If you feel unsafe with any part of the process, give us call, we’d love to help!

Hosting The Holidays In The Twin Cities

.

We often overlook the stress that comes with the holiday season as we get to spend time with family and friends that we don't see very often. Having guests over to your house is a very thoughtful gesture, but usually warrants unwanted stress. With these tips, you’ll be able to get your house in order and enjoy quality time with your guests, without the stress!

 

Make A To-Do List

Gathering your thoughts beforehand and preparing a list of tasks you need to get done before the big day will help you stay organized. Your list may include things like cleaning the kitchen, making sure your bathrooms are in order and are working properly and that your guests are comfortable in your home when they arrive. Some of these tasks often escape the plan ahead list and can be a cause of unnecessary grief during the holidays.

 

Electrical Safety

During the colder holiday months, your home will inevitably consume more energy. Keeping the oven on for extended periods of time to get all of the delicious food prepared and playing joyful background music on your home’s entertainment system use more energy and require more power than on a normal day. Make sure you are using surge protectors to eliminate the risk of a blown fuse or electrical fire that would really put a damper on the holiday season.

 

Tidy Up

Everybody wants to show off a sparkling clean home to their guests. While it is important to tidy up the entire house, it may be more beneficial to spend the most time in the rooms where your guests will actually occupy. A little extra cleaning effort should be placed in the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms of your home.

 

Peace of Mind

Now that you’ve made a list and prepared your home for the holidays, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy. These gatherings only take place a handful of times per year so make the best of it! Don’t waste time stressing about the small stuff. For additional holiday prep tips click here.

 

If you are currently experiencing any plumbing, heating, or electrical problems give us a call! Get the issues resolved before the holidays so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Uptown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling has been servicing the Twin Cities for 100 years. Trust the experts!

Water Heater: Repair or Replace?

.

If you’ve recently been hit with an ice cold shower or found a large puddle in your basement near your hot water heater, it may be an indication that it needs to be repaired or replaced. However, it’s often difficult for homeowners to determine which action is the most appropriate. See below for how to diagnose your hot water heater problems:

 

If your water heater is roughly 10-13 years old, replacement is likely the only solution. Although a new water heater can be expensive, there is some good news - “New models are up to 20% more efficient and can save $700 in energy costs over the life of the unit,” according to Houselogic.

 

 

Water heaters only contain a few moving parts and only a few things can go wrong, so diagnosis is often relatively simple.

  • Pilot light flickers out.

  • Circuit breaker on an electric heater trips.

  • Burner or heating element fails.

  • Thermostat breaks.

     

Any of the above repairs or replacement parts are usually inexpensive. Give Uptown a call to discuss.

 

If replacement is your only option, you’ll have to pay between $500 and $1,500 to purchase a new water heater and have it installed. As previously mentioned, new systems are much more energy efficient and will save you money in the long run. Also keep in mind that tankless, heat pump and solar water heaters offer even bigger savings. They do however, cost more to purchase.

Remember, water heaters require some maintenance. Flushing the tank and keeping your system clean will increase its efficiency and longevity. If you are unsure about whether you can have a part repaired or need to replace the entire system, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook!

Speed Cleaning Tips To Get Your House Clean For The Holidays

.

If you think the holidays are synonymous with the word stress, you’re not alone. Making the plans, preparing the food, and having the whole family over your house can be overwhelming. However, taking hours to clean the house for your guests is a thing of the past! Get your house cleaned in just minutes with these speed cleaning tips:

 

 

 

  • Make a list -creating a checklist with everything that needs to be cleaned is a great way to stick to the plan. Checking off each item as you also provides a feeling of satisfaction.

  • Start at one end - begin at one end of the house, say your bedroom, and work your way through the living room and kitchen.

  • Be organized - it’s much easier to clean when things have a home. Shelving and storage boxes or drawers will help keep things out of the way.

  • Sweeping and mopping - save it for the end. Running your mop or broom over the hard surfaces of your floors only takes a couple of minutes. Get the longer tasks finished and out of the way first.

  • Timeline - Use your time wisely. Dedicate 5 minutes to each of your bathrooms, 10-15 minutes for the living and dining rooms, and 10-15 minutes for the kitchen.

     

This article is full of great time-saving cleaning tips and ideas, be sure to check it out!

Abiding by this guideline will help you save valuable time when it comes to preparing your home for the holidays. Now you can focus more time on preparing the food and actually spending time relaxing with your family! Don’t stress!

Turn Your Living Room Into A Winter Wonderland

.

Create a cozy winter wonderland in your living room this season to create a warm and enjoyable living space as freezing temperatures rear their ugly heads. It’s that time of year to take down all of the spring and summer decorations and replace them with winter-themed designs. Nothing says snuggling up on a cold winter day like a fireplace, blanket and ski photographs on display in the room.

 

 

Consider repainting your walls with warmer colors like red or yellow to create a warmer atmosphere than your neutral colored walls. Replacing your sheer window treatments with heavier curtains or draperies is another simple way to add warmth to a room.

 

You may want to purchase an area rug for your wood or tile floor which will provide warmth and comfort for your freezing toes. A simple bookcase with mittens, wool hats and scarves displayed are a perfect way to personalize your living space with a winter flair.

 

Finally, make use of your fireplace. Nothing beats the smell of wood burning in the winter and the heat that a wood-burning or an electric fireplace gives off. Plus, it’s a less-expensive way to heat your house!

For more winter-inspired living room ideas, head on over to Better Homes and Gardens. Don’t let the cold temperatures of winter inhibit you from enjoying time in a cozy living room with your friends and family.

Repairing & Replacing An Electrical Outlet In The Twin Cities

.

Don’t you hate when you hire somebody to fix or replace a broken item only to realize you probably could have done it yourself? That is often the case when things appear to be broken around your house. A cracked or loose electrical outlet can trick you into thinking that it needs to be replaced by an expert electrician, but before hiring somebody you should take a minute to find out exactly what you need and how it can be repaired or replaced properly AND safely.

 

Follow this list to familiarize yourself with electrical outlet terms and safety tips:

  • Receptacle - this is the area on the face of the outlet where the prongs plug in. If any part of the face is broken or doesn’t grip the prongs firmly, it needs to be replaced.

  • Terminal Screws - these are located on either side of the outlet. This is the safest point of wire connection - white wire always goes to silver screw and black wire goes to brass screw.

  • Grounding Screw - connects to bare grounding wire to prevent shocks.

  • Mounting Strap - holds receptacle flush with outside of box.

  • Romex - plastic jacket that contains black, white, and copper wires that connect to circuit-breaker panel.

     

For a complete electrical outlet guide, accompanied by photos, visit this article from This Old House.

 

Now that you are familiar with an electrical outlet you can be sure of what to ask for when shopping for a new one. By following these safety tips and knowing the potential hazards that can occur when replacing your electrical outlet, you may not need to hire an electrician to do the job.

Safety is our top priority and you should never try to install an outlet if you are unsure of how to do so properly and safely. Give us a call if you need a hand, we are happy to help!

Upgrading Your Kitchen On A Budget

.

We know that a complete kitchen renovation can break the bank. However, you don’t need an entire remodel to give your kitchen an updated look and spice things up. Simple solutions like clever seating, lighting that creates the right atmosphere, and adding touches of color here and there are great ways to freshen up your kitchen without going broke! See below for ways to upgrade your kitchen without spending a fortune:

 

Bold Backsplash

Tired of looking at the same boring backsplash every time you use your kitchen sink? Why not start by adding vibrant colors. Multihued ceramic tiles can brighten up the entire kitchen for about $30 to $40 per square foot.

 

Paint Your Pantry

Continuing with the color scheme, try giving your pantry an aesthetic makeover. Use a contrasting color to make it stand out from the rest of the kitchen.

 

Change The Seating Plan

There are thousands options to replace your current seating and bring in a new look. You can replace standard kitchen chairs with bar stools or go for a bench seat on either side of your kitchen table.

 

Set The Mood

Consider getting rid of your current kitchen lighting plan and install dramatic lighting fixtures instead! Try a multilight pendant or a chandelier instead of recessed lighting.

For an entire kitchen upgrade inspiration center, visit This Old House. With these affordable refreshers, you can give your kitchen a whole new look on a small budget. If you need assistance in choosing items that will look great in your kitchen, or if you need a professional installation, give us a call! We love to help!

Turn Your Cold, Concrete, Crammed Basement Into A Cozy Living Space!

.

Your basement doesn’t have to be cold, concrete and crammed with storage boxes. It has the potential to become a living space that your whole family can enjoy spending time in. They key is to treat your basement like you would any other room of your house and with a little inspiration from This Old House you can turn it into the most popular spot in your house.

 

Before you begin the remodel, it is important to test for moisture which can mean your foundation is not sealed properly. Check floor joists for sagging and have a professional check fuel-burning equipment and your home’s ventilation system.

 

During the renovation, make sure to insulate the pipes in your basement to avoid the potential of freezing and bursting and insulate walls, ceilings and floors if necessary.

 

A basement is not a place where you can skimp on lighting. Basements don’t normally receive as much natural lighting as the upper floors in your house so more fixtures are necessary. Dimly lit basements are a big turnoff.

 

One of the reasons your family may not currently utilize the basement is the lack of food. You don’t need a full kitchen in your basement, but a mini fridge for beverages, a cabinet to hold snacks, and a microwave for heating are a MUST!

 

Consider leaving space for games and entertainment. Billiards tables, darts, and ping-pong are great ways to attract people to the basement to hang out and have some fun.

Lastly, make your basement a cozy place where you and your family can curl up. If possible, a fireplace is a great option. Add furnishings such as a comfortable couch or armchair and paint the walls a warm color. Adding family photos or your favorite sports figures are another great way to create a cozy atmosphere.

To schedule an appointment with Uptown, give us a call today at 651-315-7995.

Bathroom Cleaning Tips - St. Paul - Minneapolis Area

.

We all know how frustrating it is to look at a dirty bathroom. Nobody wants to have shower or tub full of soap scum or mold, but it’s difficult to find time during your busy day to dedicate to cleaning. Not only is it difficult to find the time, it’s also a hassle to find a cleaning product that works! Well, we have a simple solution. Find out how you can save money AND have a sparkling clean shower or tub! Follow these steps to get the best of both worlds:

 

  • Heat 12oz. vinegar in microwave for 2 minutes.

  • Add warm vinegar to spray bottle.

  • Add 10oz. blue dawn to spray bottle.

  • Shake gently.

  • Spray cleaner on dirty surface and let sit for a few minutes.

  • Wipe down with dry wash cloth.

     

Following this process, provided by FabulesslyFrugal will alleviate the headache of cleaning the bathroom. The vinegar and soap mixture will cut through grime and dirt and all you have to do is wipe clean! With this recipe, you will no longer dread cleaning, and your shower and tub will be spotless! Stay tuned for more home cleaning and maintenance tips!