Preventing House Fires During The Holidays

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What do you have on the menu for the holidays this year? A honey-glazed ham? Chicken parmigiana? Sauteed vegetables? Whether your family likes to go outside of the box and dabble in non-traditional holiday cuisine or you like sticking to the staples you’ve been enjoying for as long as you can remember chances are you’re going to be cooking with oil at some point during the holiday season.

 

As you probably already know, grease and oil is extremely flammable and is a leading cause of home fires across the United States. Even though you try your best to keep it inside the pan, as oil heats up it can spit or splatter all over the stove and get down into the burner and this is a cause for concern.

 

Put yourself in this scenario: you’re frying chicken cutlets for the main course when all of a sudden the pan goes up in flames. What should you do?

 

The answer is rather simple. Turn off the stove right away and before things get out of hand, you’ll want to smother the flames. You can do so by placing a cookie sheet on top of the pan to cut off the oxygen supply to the fire. NEVER pick up the pan - if you do, you run the risk of splashing oil outside of the pan and causing additional fires.


Safety should be the number one priority especially when it comes to your home’s plumbing and heating systems. If you notice anything out of the ordinary or need service in your Twin Cities home, don’t hesitate to call on the experts at
Uptown Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.

4 Steps To Preventing a Holiday Plumbing Disaster

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There’s never a good time to encounter a plumbing problem in your home, but we can assure you that a plumbing problem during the holidays is one nobody wants to deal with, ever. And while hosting friends and family is a wonderful way to spend the holidays, it can put added pressure no your pipes so there are a few things you need to do in order to avoid a catastrophe.

 
  1. Take it easy on your sink. It works hard to carry out dirty dish water and unfinished drinks and pouring grease down the drain can put an end to these tasks rather quickly. Instead of pouring it down the drain, dump it into a plastic or glass container once it has cooled and throw it in the trash.

  2. Prevent drain clogs by using a strainer. We recommend placing them in all sinks as well as showers to prevent hair, dirt and other larger items from clogging the drain.

  3. Insulate pipes that may be exposed to colder temperatures. This includes those located in garages, basements or crawl spaces and don’t forget the ones that run along exterior walls. Pipe insulation can be purchased from most home improvement stores.

  4. Remind your guests not to flush anything other than toilet paper. Hygiene products such as wipes, cotton balls, cotton swabs and dental floss are all known to cause backups. Make sure there is a trash can located in all bathrooms so your friends and family members have somewhere else to dispose of these items.


If you find yourself experiencing a plumbing disaster this holiday season, know that the experts at
Uptown are always here to help! Give us a call at 651-315-7995 and we’ll get your system back up and running as soon as possible.

Conserving Energy in the Laundry Room This Holiday Season

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The in-laws from across town decided to spend the night, the cousins are in from out of state and you’re one big happy family. But the same may not apply to your washer and dryer - having guests spend a few days could lead to more dirty clothes and in turn, additional loads of laundry. What does that mean for you? It means you might be consuming more energy than normal this holiday season which could come along with some added costs. But the good news is there are lots of tips and tricks for saving energy when it comes to doing a load of laundry so see below to find out how you can save:

 
  1. Stick to Cold: believe it or not, washing your clothes in warm or hot actually costs more money. Why? Well, your water heater has to run to heat the water up. A cold load typically costs around 5 cents while a warm/hot load will run you nearly 70 cents.

  2. Wait For a Full Load: you may be tempted to wash just a few pieces of clothing here and there, but that’s also going to cost you. It takes just as much electricity to run a small load as it does for a larger one, so wait until you have enough dirty laundry to fill up the washing machine.

  3. Faster is Better: if you have the option to choose a spin cycle speed on your dryer, choose a faster option. Clothes dry more quickly the faster they spin.

  4. Clean the Lint Screen: after every single load. Your clothes will dry faster and use less energy than if the screen is dirty.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and remember, you can enjoy on-time plumbing, heating and air conditioning repairs and new systems across Minneapolis - St. Paul areas with the professionals at Uptown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.

How To Have an Energy-Efficient Thanksgiving

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Everyone loves the holidays, between the decorations and music, there’s no wonder why it’s considered “the most wonderful time of the year.” But something that isn’t so wonderful - the price tag attached to holiday hosting. With just a few days until Thanksgiving, you may be wondering how your energy bill will hold up against a house full of people. Before the in-laws pull up, check out a few of these simple ways to cut down on energy waste this Thanksgiving.

 

Turn decorations off before you go to sleep. We know you spent a lot of time and energy hanging lights and other decorations, so you want people to see them, but leaving them on all night can be a huge drain on your energy bill, and more importantly a fire hazard. If you keep forgetting to turn them off, think about picking up an automatic timer so you can set it and forget it.

 

Turn down the thermostat when guests arrive: Thanksgiving is expected to be cold with a chance of rain or snow, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to crank up the thermostat. Between all the cooking, hot food and moving bodies, the house will stay plenty warm without having to even turn up the thermostat.

 

Cook as much as you can at once. If one dish needs to be heated to 350 degrees and another to 325 degrees, don’t waste the time and energy heating them one after the other. Instead, cook them both together on the higher heat and just take the one out a few minutes earlier than the directions say.

 

Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing. Its no surprise that everyone’s least favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the clean up. But luckily for whoever is in charge of the dishes, handwashing uses more energy than the dishwasher. So before you pile everything into the sink, try to fit as much into the dishwasher as possible, then wash the few leftover r non dishwasher safe items in the sink.

 

Take advantage of your slow cooker while prepping. With the ovens and stove tops in almost constant use Thanksgiving day, plan ahead and find other ways to prepare food. You might not be able to do the turkey in a slow cooker, but sides, dressings and appetizers can all be started the day before and left in the slow cooker. And best of all, their low wattage means that 10 hours will only cost you around 21 cents.

 

Let your leftovers cool before putting them in the fridge. Throwing hot food in the fridge makes your refrigerator work harder to keep everything cool.


If you run into any heating or plumbing issues that could threaten your Thanksgiving, give the expert plumbers at
Uptown a call right away! From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.

Careful Where You Toss These Holiday Food Scraps

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It’s late. You’ve spent a full day at work and now you’ve got to prepare some of the food items for the big day tomorrow. All you can think about is laying down and closing your eyes, but you know you need to get this done. In order to speed things up a bit, you decide to throw your food scraps down the garbage disposal. But wait, not so fast!

 

We understand how tempting it can be to simply throw everything down the garbage disposal. After all, it should be able to handle all of your food scraps, right? WRONG. Throw the following items in the trash can instead - you’ll save yourself  a big headache and potentially a big bill down the road:

  • Fibrous foods: food items that contain strings, like celery, can tangle around the disposal’s blades and cause it to jam up.

  • Bones: cooking up a big bird this Thanksgiving? Throw bones in the trash as they’ll just spin around with the blades rather than get chopped up. And even if they do make it past the teeth, they’re definitely going to clog the drain pipe.

  • Coffee grinds: need a little pick-me-up to get through the food prepping process,there’s nothing like a hot cup of coffee. Just be sure not to let any of the grinds find their way into the disposal - they’re going to pile up and cause a sludgy mess.

  • Grease: hot water will wash it down, right? Wrong. Even if it appears to be doing the trick, as the grease cools later on it’ll harden and can cause a backup in your pipes.


If you run into a garbage disposal emergency this holiday season, don’t hesitate to give the expert plumbers at
Uptown a call right away! From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.

4 Things You Didn't Know You Could Fix Yourself

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Are you at do-it-yourselfer? Do you like spending time working on your home? Do you enjoy painting, tiling or woodworking? While there are lots of jobs no homeowner should take on without calling in an expert, there are some tasks that require very little knowledge or expertise to complete. By devoting a bit of your time and buying a few inexpensive parts here and there, you can likely fix these things on your own:

 
  1. Leaky Faucet: have a faucet that won’t seem to stop dripping? You may just need a replacement cartridge which you should be able to find at a local home improvement store for around $10. Shut off the water under the sink, then pull the leaky handle off after loosening the fastener and replace the brass or plastic valve.

  2. Scratches on the Toilet Bowl: have clogged toilets lead to scratches on the inside of the bowl? Drain the bowl and scrub the scratches with Bar Keepers Friend and a kitchen scouring pad. Voila!

  3. Leaky Dishwasher: most cases of dishwasher leaks come as a result of a broken rubber gasket. Take a look along the edge of the dishwasher tub and if it’s cracked or broken, replace it with a new one.

  4. Poor Vent-Hood Suction: this quick fix often involves simply cleaning the filters and ducts. But if both of these parts are already clean, you may need to replace the motor. Pull out the fan blade and find the motor’s wiring. Unclip it and then unscrew the old motor. Attach the new one and you should be all set.


For more serious problems, or for plumbing or heating issues that you’re not comfortable fixing yourself the experts at
Uptown Plumbing, Heating & Cooling are always here to help! Give us a call at 651-315-7995 today!

Saint Paul Kicks Off the Holiday Season With the Grand Opening of Rice Park

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Still not in the holiday spirit? Maybe a 70-foot-tall, 20-foot-wide holiday tree, ice skates and hot cocoa will do the trick! This Saturday, Saint Paul officially kicks off the holiday season with the grand opening of Rice Park and the Wells Fargo WinterSkate ice rink. Come out for a day chock-full of events and fun for the whole family!

 

 

The event will be taking place at Rice Park, 109 W. 4th Street, Saint Paul Minnesota from 3:00pm - 10:00pm. Here’s a full rundown of the schedule:

 

 

Rice Park powered by Xcel Energy Stage
4-4:20 p.m. — Performance by Minnesota Dance Collaborative
4:30-6:30 p.m. — Jack the Dog from Wells Fargo for photo opportunities
4:30-6:30 p.m. — Hot Cocoa compliments of Xcel Energy
4:45-5:30 p.m. — Teddy Bear Band on Rice Park Stage
4:45-5:15 p.m. — Nordy from the Minnesota Wild for photo opportunities
5:45-6 p.m. — Winter Carnival button unveiling & performance by Winter Carnival Vulcans
6 p.m. — Saint Paul Police Drumline performance, Wells Fargo Choir performance, welcome speeches, Saint Paul Hotel “It’s a Wonderful Life” singers, Make A Wish introduction and check presentation, countdown to tree lighting by Saint Paul Police Drumline.
6:30 p.m. —Tree is lit and fireworks in the park

Wells Fargo WinterSkate Rink/Landmark Plaza
3-4:45 p.m. — Reindeer and sleigh in Landmark Plaza (photo opportunity)
4:30 -7 p.m. — Stuff the stagecoach (toy donations for Salvation Army)
4:30-6:30 p.m. — Hot cocoa compliments of Wells Fargo
5:00-5:45 p.m. — Skating performances by Hastings River Blades
6:30 p.m. — Saint Paul Police Drumline performance, Wells Fargo Choir, Ordway performances, Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink ribbon cutting
7 p.m. — Saint Paul Police Drumline performance
7-7:20 p.m. — Rink cleared
7:20-10 p.m. — Rink open for skating

We hope you can come out for a spectacular holiday celebration and from your friends at Uptown, we’re wishing you a very happy and safe holiday season!

Should I Repair or Replace My Furnace?

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You wake up one winter morning, rub your eyes and set your feet on the floor - only to quickly realize your room is freezing because the heat never came on. When your furnace starts acting up, it can be hard to tell if it just needs a little tlc or if it’s finally time to call it quits. If you’re trying to decide whether to repair your furnace or get a new one all together, consider a few of these factors.

 

Cost:

 
  • Repair: A quick repair is cheaper than replacing the whole system, but constant repairs may cost you more in the long run than if you replaced it the first time.

  • Replace: Replacing an entire unit has a much higher upfront cost, but odds are you won’t have to put any more money into it for a few years.

 

Age:

 
  • Repair: If your furnace is less than 10 years old when it starts acting up, odds are it’s because of a small problem like a dusty filter, blown pilot light or malfunctioning thermostat that can be repaired fairly easily.

  • Replace: If your furnace is over 10 years old and continuously running into major problems, it might be time to consider replacing it.

 

Reliability:

 
  • Repair: If this is the first problem you’ve had in years, it’s probably best to repair the unit and see if that lasts.

  • Replace: If it’s the third time this season that you’re waking up to a cold home or rattling unit, then you should look into updating the furnace.

 

Your Home Investment

 
  • Repair: Repairing your furnace won’t exactly add to your home investment, but it also doesn’t hurt it.

  • Replace: Replacing a furnace or HVAC system might not be the first thing on every homeowner’s mind before they sell, but updating your system can really drive up your asking price.


Quality:

 
  • Repair: Repairing your system will of course leave you with the same furnace you have had for years, causing you to miss out on newer, more updated models.

  • Replace: Putting in a new system gives you the option to choose more energy efficient models, and even ones with air filtration systems which are certainly a step up from any furnaces installed 20 or 30 years ago.

 Whatever the case may be, strange noises or a lack of heat coming from your furnace means you should have it checked out as quickly as possible and that’s where we come in! Whether you need a quick repair or are shopping for a new furnace, give the heating experts at Uptown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling a call and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook!

Prepare Your Bathrooms For Thanksgiving Guests

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ALERT: Thanksgiving is only a week away! It’s crazy how time flies, isn’t it? If it’s your turn to host the holiday this year, treat your overnight guests to a five-star hotel bathroom experience with the tips below. Between showering, freshening up and relieving themselves after the big meal your guests will likely be spending a decent amount of time in the bathroom.

 

In order to get your bathroom in tip-top shape before your guests arrive, follow this checklist:

  • First and foremost, make sure the entire room is clean. If you have the time, you can do it yourself, but if you’ll be busy preparing the rest of the house, heading to the supermarket to buy all necessary food items you may want to call in a professional cleaning service to do the dirty work.

  • Stock up on cotton swabs, toilet paper, toothpaste and extra toothbrushes. And don’t forget to remind your guests to throw anything besides toilet paper into the trash. These other items can clog up your plumbing.

  • Freshen up the room with scented soaps or potpourri.

  • Replace old, dirty shower curtains and liners with new ones. You may also want to swap out that old bath mat with a new plush model.

  • Stock the shower with shampoo and soap and consider placing a strainer in the drain. This will help prevent against clogs that could cause major problems with everyone staying over.

  • Have a leaky shower head or broken fixtures? Have them repaired or replaced before your guests arrive. You’re going to need as many working bathrooms as possible.


In need of a plumber to help get your bathrooms in good working order before the big day? Call on the trusted experts at
Uptown Plumbing today. We’ll take care of the plumbing and the fixtures so you can worry about the bird!

4 Common Caulking Catastrophes To Avoid

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As temperatures begin to drop in the Twin Cities, weatherization is on the minds of most homeowners - and it should be. When it comes to saving on energy bills during the winter months, a little bit of work now will save you lots of green! That means it’s time to fix up cracks and gaps in exterior walls, adding insulation where needed and putting a stop to drafty windows and doors. But if you fall victim to the common caulking catastrophes below, you may find your energy bills on the rise this season.

 
  1. Choosing the right type: with lots of options out there, it can be difficult to find the right one for the job. We recommend looking for 100% Silicone, not Acrylic to protect against water leakage as well as sealing to save energy. Silicone is permanently waterproof, flexible and shrink/crack-proof so it’s much more suitable than its Acrylic counterpart.

  2. Don’t forget about the other leaks in your home. While sealing around windows and doors is great, there are lots of other areas that are prone to drafts and leaks. Do a walkthrough of the basement, attic and crawl space to make sure everything is sealed properly.

  3. Remove old caulk before applying new. All you need for this task is a razor blade so there’s no room for excuses here.

  4. Finish the job. You may think you’re all set after you’ve applied the caulk, but no job is complete without tooling, or smoothing. Use your finger to run along the caulked seam and smooth it out to ensure a tight seal.

Now that you’re an expert, set some time aside this weekend to button up your home for cooler temperatures. And know that when you need plumbing or heating service this season, Uptown is here to help!