Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Generally, you should use your disposal at least 2 times a week and run the water for at least 30 seconds or longer. If you use your disposal daily, you should always run the disposal for at least 30 to 60 seconds with running water before you run the dishwasher. If you happen to be in the kitchen when the dishwasher is draining, run the disposal again while the water is draining. It helps to keep it odor free, and the blades free of bits of food and other miscellaneous debris that can cause clogs or slow-running disposal draining.

Never put coffee grounds into the disposal (or celery and other stringy veggies). The disposal is designed for small bits of food, not all the potato peelings from the Thanksgiving dinner.

Clean with a few ice cubes and running water. Deodorize with lemon or orange rind.

Water Heater Inspection and Maintenance

Your water heater should give you years of trouble-free service. Annually you should visually inspect the water heater fittings at the top or bottom. You are looking for leaks, corrosion, or signs of rust. If you see any of these problems, you should give us a call for an inspection.

Most manufacturers recommend draining (or flushing) the water heater annually. If you are able, connect a garden hose to the hose bib at the bottom of the water heater and open the valve about one-third of the way. Allow the water to drain in a safe place (not near plants as the hot water can kill some plants) for about 3 to 5 minutes. You are looking at the discharge from the hose. Initially it may be rusty or dirty. There may be some particles of mineral or other debris. Once the water is running clear and freely, close the valve and remove the hose. Check for leaks or drips at the hose connection!

Note: If you have neglected doing maintenance on your water heater for many years, then do not perform this work. So much material could be in the water heater that you may not be able to shut off the valve and you would have a leak.

Outdoor Lighting

Many of us have outdoor lighting that does not work properly. If you are able, you should inspect the units to make sure that the lights are aimed properly for safe entry and exiting of your home in the dark or bad weather.

New technology such as LED lighting is very cost effective and can solve lighting issues outside the home. These lights are energy efficient and can be set to operate as a motion detector, dusk to dawn, or simply just on and off. Safety is greatly increased with proper lighting.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

We encounter so many homes (in our job we are in our customers’ homes every day) that have no smoke detectors. Many others have the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the “junk” drawer or out in the garage. “Well, they started beeping and wouldn’t go off, so we took them down!”  This is the worst thing you can do. So, what do you do when they go off in the middle of the night or every time you make toast? Good question!

First and easiest is to replace the batteries and get a tester, because some of the brand-new batteries are not fully charged and you will get the low battery chirp. If the units are over 10 years old or you have frequent false alarms, we should replace the units. There are hard wired smoke detectors that wire into your homes electrical system and battery units. Many new units are available with a 10-year battery. Once it’s done you just replace it with a new one. (No more battery chirps.)

There are also combination units—that is, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector all in one. This way, your house doesn’t have to cluttered with 2 units in some of the rooms. The general rule in California is one smoke detector in every bedroom. You also need a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in all halls, living rooms, and dens. That’s easy to do.

You are better served getting a higher-priced unit than a $10 battery unit. The cost of batteries replaced twice a year will far exceed the price of a good 10-year smoke, carbon monoxide, or combination detector.

Water-Saving Devices

Low-flow toilets now use only 1.28 gallons of water, and some even use less! These toilets save water and energy, and typically are very good flushing toilets. Invest in a higher-priced unit as many of the discount toilets don’t flush very well. Also get a good toilet seat. Cheap plastic ones often are loose and can be unsafe.

ADA or Comfort Height toilets are the same as low-flow toilets, but are 2 inches taller. These toilets are much easier on people that have back, knee, and hip challenges. Because they are higher, they are easier to get off and on.

Low-flow faucets and shower heads have lower flow and still have plenty of pressure, but we save money on heating and wasting water. Many people leave the water on when they brush their teeth or shave. Of course, to save the most water we should turn off the faucet, but being a realist, sometimes we forget.

Timers for hoses save water and money by turning off your garden hose after the flowers or garden have been watered. They are battery operated and do a great job. Set the time and they can even water every day for a specified time.

Timers for sprinklers work the same as hose timers. You can also set the timer to “Rain” or “Off” during the rainy season to save even more water and help our environment.

When you wash the car, use a hose nozzle that shuts off instead of just letting the water run down the driveway or onto the lawn. Use of a bucket, brush with a handle, and an adjustable spray nozzle will help you make quick work of your car washing chore!

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