Keeping Drains Clear With A Full House

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The kids are home from school, their play date is at your house tomorrow and you’re concerned about the state of your drains. Yes, it is true that more people means more clogs, but not if you are careful about it. Try implementing the following tips to help prevent any possible plumbing disasters:

 

Wipe-Free Zone

If you have small children in your home this week, make sure they weren’t given the wrong information about wipes. Even though the package might say ‘flushable’, there is no such thing as a flushable wipe. They will cause blockages deep in your pipes that require immediate repair.

Drain Responsibly

When there are more guests in the home throughout the day, the chances of a drain clog increase dramatically. There are more meals to cook, more plates to clean, and more strain on your drains. To give them a fighting chance, keep the following items out:

  • Egg Shells

  • Coffee Grinds

  • Grease/Oil

  • Bones

Drain Cleaning Hacks

There are two methods that we would recommend for any in-home drain clog. The baking soda method and the fishing hook:

The baking soda method goes as follows:

  • Take 1 TBSP of baking soda and 1 TBSP of vinegar and pour them down the drain.

  • Let the solution sit and break up clogs for half an hour.

  • Once the time has passed, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain to wash it away.

The fishing hook method goes as follows:

  • Using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, straighten a wire hanger but keep the hook end in tact.

  • Bend the other end to form a small handle or loop.

  • Stick the hook end into the drain and see if you can loop around the item you want to remove.

  • Just make sure you aren’t pushing the clogging culprit further down!

If you find yourself in the middle of a mess this week, call on Uptown Man to save the day! The experts at Uptown Plumbing will arrive with the tools needed to get things flowing the way they should be.

3 Ways to Save Water in the Bathroom

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Most people think that because 75% of the Earth is covered in water, we’ll never run out. But contrary to popular belief, that is definitely not the case. Interested in taking a stab at a green project that can save you lots of water and money? It all starts in the bathroom. See below to find out how you can make a difference with a few small updates:

 

The Toilet

Did you know that toilets are the main water wasters in homes across the country? Believe it or not, they account for nearly 30% of all indoor water consumption, according to the EPA. If you’ve got an old toilet, consider replacing it with an ultra-high-efficiency model. Doing so can save you nearly 18,000 gallons of water and $120 per year.

 

The Faucet

Think that small leak is no big deal? Think again. A small faucet drip can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day. That’s 140 gallons per week and 7,280 gallons per year!

The Shower

You may enjoy taking a long, hot shower after a tough day at work and let’s face it - it’s quite relaxing. But it might not be so relaxing when you consider the fact that you’re wasting lots of water and it’s taking a toll on your utility bills. You can save 8,000 gallons of water or more each year by switching to a high-efficiency showerhead and cutting down on the amount of time you spend in there.

Uptown Plumbing is completely licensed and insured for all your plumbing and repipe requirements in Minneapolis-St Paul. Have a leak? That’s our specialty. Give us a call today at 612-284-5789 and we’ll put a stop to it right away!

Can Thermostat Setbacks Really Save You Money?

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Let’s face it - it’s tough to keep a comfortable home without spending a fortune on energy bills each winter. And with the frigid temperatures that blanket the Twin Cities from November-March it’s no wonder homeowners are looking for some serious solutions.

You may have heard that turning your thermostat back a few degrees is one way to save money, but does it really work? Find out the answer and a few other heating tips below:

  • Temperature setbacks do in fact, help you save energy which in turn, helps you save money.

  • Programmable thermostats allow you to set different temperatures based on the time of day and the day of the week.

  • Smart thermostats learn how you live and adjust the temperature based on your lifestyle.

Why Do Temperature Setbacks Work?

In order to understand the science behind this, you must think about how your home is set up. You’ve got insulation on the inside walls of your home and they’re built to keep warm air inside. Insulation has a given R-value, which is the amount of heat that transfers through the wall, which leads us to something called Temperature Difference.

Heat wants to travel from warmer areas to cooler areas so if you have your heat set to 70°F and it’s 0°F, you’ll lose more heat through the walls than if you set your thermostat back to 60°F, make sense?

Setting your thermostat back a few degrees will give your heating system a much-needed rest and a resting machine means lower energy bills.

Having issues with your thermostat or your home’s heating system? Rest assured knowing that Uptown has over 100 years of experience and whether you need service, advice or installations we’ve got you covered!

Finding & Operating Your Main Water Shut-Off

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Do you know where your main water shut-off valve is located in your home? Do you know how to turn it on and off? Knowing these things is an integral component of being a homeowner and they can save you major trouble in case of an emergency. After all, there’s no time to lose when a pipe bursts or springs a leak.

If you have a basement…

The shut-off valve should be located near the foundation wall in the front portion of your home. It may help to locate the main water pipe which usually comes through a concrete wall or floor, because the valve should be located within 3-5 feet of where it enters.

If you have a crawl space and a basement…

You may find the valve where the water enters the basement or it might be inside the crawl space itself. You may want to consider having an additional valve added in the basement to make it more convenient to access.

If you have a crawl space, but no basement…

The shut-off valve should be located near your water heater or under the kitchen sink. It could also be inside the crawl space so if you can’t find it in either of the first two locations, check here next.

If your house is on a concrete slab…

You’ll likely find the valve near the water heater or in a closet or storage area near the front of the house. If you can’t find it there, check underneath the kitchen sink.

Now that you’ve located the main water shut-off valve, operation is rather simple. There are two main types of valves - it could be circular or a lever. For circular valves, turn it clockwise to shut off the water and if you have a lever, turn it so it’s perpendicular to the pipe.

For quality plumbing solutions and on-time service across Minneapolis - St. Paul, rely on the professionals at Uptown Plumbing. Our company has been trusted in tens of thousands of home in our 100+ years of service.

5 Honey-Do List Items You Can Tackle Right Away

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Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and if your relationship is anything like ours, you probably got a list of things to take care of around the house instead of a box chocolates this year. And contrary to popular belief, your significant other would rather have the following items taken care of instead of that expensive bag and jewelry:

 

  1. Re-Caulk The Tub: nothing can kill a mood like moldy or dirty caulk around the base of the bathtub. Take a razor blade or utility knife and remove the old, stained stuff and add a fresh layer of caulk. Then use your finger or a rag to wipe away the excess and it’ll look as good as new.

  2. Add A Humidifier: hearing complaints about the wood floor that has warped? It probably means there’s not enough humidity in your home because after all, wood changes shape depending on how much moisture is in the air. Not to mention, adding a humidification system can promote healthier skin.

  3. Clean Up The Garage: have a garage full of clutter? Take some time this weekend to organize it and get rid of the things you don’t need. After all, spring is right around the corner and you’re going to need access to the lawnmower and landscaping tools.

  4. Hang Those Shelves: has your honey been nagging you to hang shelves in the bathroom or kitchen? Take care of it now! Not only will you get them off your back for a little while, but shelves can help solve the problem of not having enough storage.

  5. Turn Down The Heat: your home’s heating system has been working hard all winter long and now it’s time to give it a rest - especially if your significant other is complaining that they’re sweating. Now is also a great time to give those ceiling fans a test drive to make sure they’ll be ready for spring.

Have additional items on the list that require the knowledge and expertise of a professional plumber or hvac technician? That’s where we come in! Take this opportunity to schedule an appointment with the experts at Uptown today.

What is Hard Water and Why is it Bad?

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Did you know that hard water can be found in more than 85% of the country? With this statistic in mind, it might not be a surprise when we tell you that the Twin Cities are notorious for hard water presence. If you’re thinking to yourself, “well, what is hard water and is it bad,” we’ve got some answers for you below!

 

What is Hard Water?

Put simply, hard water is defined as the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. Water picks up minerals as it passes through rock, sand and soil and the more minerals it picks up, the “harder” the water.

Why is Hard Water Bad?

Don’t start worrying just yet - hard water is not necessarily bad for your health. But it can create a number of problems throughout your home. Here’s a quick list:

  • Clog pipes and reduce water flow

  • Dry out skin and hair

  • Reduce the lifespan of your water heater

  • Water spots or film on glasses and dishes

  • Give white clothes a yellow tint

  • Affects the taste of tea, coffee and other water-based beverages

  • Creates buildup on bathroom fixtures (shower heads and faucets).

Suspect that you have hard water in your Minneapolis - St. Paul home? We offer a range of water softening, conditioning and quality-improving features to help you enjoy the purest water possible. Give the experts at Uptown Plumbing a call today to find out how we can help!

The Best Ways To Clean A Sink Drain & Garbage Disposal

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Ever come home only to be smacked in the face with a foul odor coming from the kitchen? If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky and if you have, you know how unpleasant it can be. Most of the time, horrible smells in the kitchen stem from dirty sink drains or garbage disposals and luckily for you, there are a few quick ways to get rid of the stench. Follow the steps below and you can go ahead and stop pinching your nose:

 

How To Clean A Sink Drain

  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain.

  • Heat two cups of vinegar and pour it down the drain. Never bring liquids to a boil because extreme heat can damage your plumbing.

  • Wait a half hour and then flush the drain with warm water.

  • If the smell persists, repeat the above steps again until it goes away.

How To Clean A Garbage Disposal

  • Sprinkle a half cup of baking soda down the disposal and then follow it up with a cup of white vinegar.

  • Fill the drain with two cups of ice and turn on the blades.

  • Cut a lemon or lime, or both, in half and add them one at a time with the water running.

  • Rinse with warm water.

During the process, if you notice your faucet is leaking, you encounter a clog in the drain or notice that your pipes are leaking call on the experts at Uptown Plumbing right away. With over 100 years of experience under our belts you know you can count on us to get your Minneapolis - St. Paul home back to normal in a flash!

4 Signs The Humidity Level In Your Home Is Too Low

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Have any idea what the humidity level is inside your home? If you’re thinking “it doesn’t really matter” you may want to think again. Humidity is more important than you thought and it can lead to some serious problems if it’s not at appropriate levels. Let’s take a look at a few signs that could indicate there’s not enough humidity in your home this winter:

 

What is Humidity?

For starters, let’s quickly define humidity. It’s determined by the amount of water vapor in the air and it directly contributes to a number of health concerns. And aside from your health, too much or too little water vapor in the air can be detrimental to your furniture, decor and even your home’s structure.

Indicators of Low Humidity:

  1. You or your family members are chronically feeling ill. Low humidity can cause mucus membranes to dry out or inflame and if the membrane lining isn’t working properly, you’re more vulnerable to catching a cold, the flu or other infections.

  2. Dry skin: cold winter weather tends to bring dry air along with it and dry air can severely dry out your skin. If you notice that your skin looks ashy, flaky or becomes irritated chances are humidity levels are too low inside your home.

  3. Dry, irritated eyes. Find yourself blinking all the time because your eyes feel like they are drying out? Low humidity can cause tears stored in your tear ducts to evaporate which can interrupt the moisture balance in your eyes.

  4. Wood floors are warping. Notice gaps, cracks or spaces in your wood floors? If the air inside your home is too dry, it can cause the planks to shrink or shift which can lead to excess damage.

Take control of the humidity levels in your home in Minneapolis - St. Paul with a professional humidity control solution from the experts at Uptown Air Conditioning. With 100+ years experience behind us, it's no surprise we're the experts of choice in thousands of other homes.

3 Reasons Your Heat Isn't Turning On

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If you wake up one morning to a freezing cold house, your life could come to a screeching halt. There’s no good time for your furnace to stop working and the middle of winter is no exception. Luckily for you though, there are a few common reasons why your heat isn’t turning on. See below to find out if there’s a quick fix:

  1. The thermostat is not on the proper setting. Check to make sure it’s actually set to “heat” rather than “cool” or “off.” If it’s already set to “heat” but nothing is coming from the vents, raise the temperature a few degrees. If the thermostat is showing no signs of life at all, it could be time to replace the batteries or it could mean that a fuse has blown.

  2. The pilot light went out. If you have a natural gas or propane central heating system, there is an electronic igniter or pilot light that is used to ignite the burners. Sometimes the pilot light can go out and needs to be relit in order for the system to produce heat.

  3. The blower motor needs a new belt. In some heating systems, the blower motor requires a belt in order to operate. If the belt has cracked, frayed or lost its tension it needs to be replaced. This is a job for professionals and should not be attempted by anyone without experience.

For fast, quality, same day repairs on your heating system across Minneapolis - St. Paul, call and speak with the heating repair experts at Uptown Heating today. Enjoy our red carpet level of service that we back with a satisfaction guarantee plus enjoy the peace of mind knowing that all workmanship we perform is backed with a signed warranty too.

Tackling 2 Common Plumbing Leaks

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A few drips here. A few drips there. Nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. While there are lots of headaches that go hand-in-hand with owning a home and let’s face it, lots of them are more serious than a leaky faucet or toilet tank valve, but if left alone that dripping can become a serious problem. Not to mention it’s a waste of both water and money.

 

How To Fix A Flapper Valve

Notice that your toilet is making a trickling noise long after the toilet has been flushed? Chances are, a worn flapper valve is the reason for the noise and the leak. Under normal conditions, the flapper opens up to allow the tank to refill after a flush. As it wears out over time, it can fail to create an adequate seal. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Turn off the water supply to the toilet.

  • Remove the old flapper valve and purchase a similar replacement. (Stick to the part made for your specific toilet - you can take the old one with you to be sure.)

  • Most flapper valves can be removed and installed without any tools. Just pop the old one off and place the new one in. You may want to use emery cloth to smooth any rough edges to ensure a watertight seal.

How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

Sink faucets can wear out over time, especially in areas with hard water which we have here in the Twin Cities. So if you notice that yours is leaking even when the level is turned to the off position, you may need to swap out the worn out valve. Here’s how to do so:

  • You’ll need to replace the valve with the exact same model. Note that different faucet models from the same manufacturer can have completely different parts.

  • First, turn off the water supply, both hot and cold.

  • Then pop off the faucet cap and remove the screw to free the lever.

  • Use pliers to remove the retainer nut and then replace the O-rings.

  • Take note of the small notch at the top of the cartridge stem because you will need to make sure it’s in the same place when you install the new one.

  • Remove the cartridge and retrace your steps to install the replacement.

For quality plumbing solutions and on-time service across Minneapolis - St. Paul, rely on the professionals at Uptown Plumbing. Our company has been trusted in tens of thousands of home in our 100+ years of service.