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Clogged Toilet

Clogs are a common occurrence in any household, so it’s a good idea to keep a standard set of plungers on hand. There are 2 basic types of plungers depending on the task at hand. For toilet clogs, a flange plunger is the best choice. A flange plunger has an additional rubber lip that folds down into the drain to create a better seal. For sink or tub clogs, a standard cup plunger is the best choice. Cup plungers have a flat bottom that will seat on the sink or tub basin to form a seal.

Most clogged toilets, sinks and tubs can easily be cleared out by using the proper plunger. If you do get a clog, place the head of the plunger over the drain (with the rubber lip folded down on a flange plunger) and push up and down with quick forceful thrusts. Never use drain cleaner in combination with a plunger, they contain harmful chemicals that could be splashed back onto your skin. Repeat this process several times for 15-20 seconds, if this doesn’t work the clog may be deeper in the plumbing and require a snake. Plumbing snakes are a flexible auger that can travel deeper into a house’s plumbing to unclog drains. If you don’t have access to a snake, call a professional plumber.

Clogged Sink

At some point in time, everyone is bound to run into a clogged sink. With the amount of food, hair, soap and other stuff we send down the drain, all the household sinks will experience clogging eventually. Clogs develop in the plumbing slowly and if you can catch them while they are still close to the drain, you may be able to use a plunger. Fill the sink ¼ of the way with water and using a standard cup plunger, place the cup over the drain and push the plunger up and down with quick forceful thrusts.

If a plunger doesn’t clear out the clog, place a bucket under the sink and loosen the sink trap, which is the curved pipe at the lowest point in the plumbing under the sink. Some sink traps are equipped with a clean out plug that can be removed with a pair of pliers, but traditional sink traps may require a pipe wrench. Remove the sink trap and using a cable auger (or something long, thin and flexible like a bottle brush) check the pipes for any clogs. If you find a clog, pull it out and flush the sink with hot water for a few seconds being mindful of your bucket, and reassemble the sink trap.

If you’re still unable to remove the clog by following the steps above you can try using drain clearing chemicals according to their instructions, or seek a professional plumbers assistance.

No Heat – Furnace

Many service calls made for furnace repair can be avoided simply through regular maintenance. If problems do occur, with a little knowledge and a DIY attitude, anyone can learn how to fix the most common furnace problems. The next time your furnace goes out in the middle of a cold winter night, consider some of the following suggestions to save yourself time, money and frustration.

  1. Check your thermostat to make sure it’s on. If you have a programmable thermostat, check to see its set for the correct date and time and that it is running its programmed cycle. Make sure the temperature on the thermostat is warm and that the room isn’t cooler than that set temperature. If your thermostat has a battery, check to see what condition it’s in.
  2. Check your filters. The most common cause for service calls are dirty filters. A dirty filter causes your furnace to overheat and shutoff. You should check your furnace filters regularly, at least monthly or more frequently if you have pets and children. Filter types vary by manufacturer and model so be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual for your particular furnace.
  3. Check the service panel or breaker box to make sure all breakers/fuses are on. Your furnace itself may also have an on/off switch located somewhere on or near it. Check to make sure it’s on and that any access panels are securely closed. Often times compartments like the blower have an access panel with a switch that makes the blower motor shut off when the door is removed.
  4. Check to see if there are any problems with the gas line. The shutoff valve handle should be parallel to the gas line when in the “on” position. Make sure that gas is flowing to your furnace.
  5. If your problems are still persisting, you may need to check for any blockage in the flue. Disassemble the flue where it enters the furnace making sure to note how the pieces came apart so you can reassemble them. Check to see that there is no blockage. If you suspect there’s a blockage, don’t take any chances. Flue or exhaust problems can cause dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in your home. If in doubt, always hire a professional.
  6. If you have a high efficiency furnace, check the drain line to make sure it’s clear. The drain line is a clear tube that typically comes out from or near the bottom of the furnace.

Working on furnaces can be potentially dangerous. If you don’t feel comfortable with your DIY skills to perform the above tasks, hire a professional.