6 Vital Skills For Surviving Homeownership

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It’s all fun and games until a pipe springs a leak or the toilet backs up. Sure, owning a home is quite the accomplishment and it’s nothing to take lightly, but there are a few skills you must possess in order to survive a few common household emergencies. Since most houses don’t come with an owner’s manual, here are the answers to some of the questions you’re inevitably going to have:

  1. Fixing A Leaky Faucet: most of the time, leaky faucets are due to worn out or failed washers inside a handle. In order to replace the washer, you’ll need to turn off the water supply valve, take the handle apart, remove the screw and pull off the handle. Then use a wrench to disassemble the stem and line up the parts in order so you remember how to replace them. Swap out the broken or worn out pieces and return the parts as they were when you began the project.

  2. Locating A Stud: whether you’re hanging a shelf, a picture or anything else that needs to be screwed into the wall, you’re going to need to be able to find the studs. Keep in mind that most studs are placed 16 inches apart from one another so once you find one, you can easily find the rest.

  3. Unclogging A Sink: step away from the chemicals! We repeat, step away from the chemicals! A full stoppage usually requires removing the drain stem and putting a plunger to work. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to use a drain snake.

  4. Dealing With The Scent of Gas: gas leaks can create a combustible atmosphere in 10 seconds or less, so if you smell gas, do not turn on the lights, use your cell phone, or light any type of flame. Check all of the knobs on the stove and the oven and if that doesn’t do the trick, call the gas utility or fire department right away.

  5. Knowing How To Turn Off The Water: this will come in handy if you ever experience a burst pipe or any other type of leak. You should be able to locate your main water shutoff valve so you can save your home from a major disaster.

  6. Stopping an Overflowing Toilet: we’ve all had the “you know what” scared out of us when a toilet backs up and water continues to flow into the bowl. In order to stop an overflowing toilet, remove the tank cover, grab the float and pull it close to the valve. That should leave you with enough time to reach down and shut off the water valves behind the bowl.

Need help taking care of any of the above? That’s what we’re here for! Call on the friendly staff at Uptown Plumbing, Heating & Cooling and we’ll help you solve these problems right away.

Why Is My Toilet Making So Much Noise?

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From running and trickling to gurgling and sloshing, toilets sure can make a lot of noise. It’s time to silence the thing that’s keeping you up at night once and for all. Let’s face it, you and your spouse could really use a good night’s sleep!

How To Fix A Noisy Toilet

  • The first step is to turn off the water supply valve(s). Then remove the lid from the tank and flush the toilet to drain as much water from the tank as possible.

  • Use a sponge or a rag to sop up any water that remains in the tank after flushing.

  • Disconnect the water supply line from behind the toilet and use a screwdriver to remove the screws holding the tank to the bowl.

  • Lift the tank off the bowl and then remove the nut on the bottom of the tank.

  • Remove the old flush valve from the tank and install new one. Be sure to mount it securely.

  • Affix new brass bolts to the tank and place the rubber spud gasket onto the bottom of the flush valve. Put the tank back onto the bowl.

  • Place new washers and hex nuts onto the brass bolts and tighten the tank back onto the bowl. Be sure to not to overtighten the nuts or you could crack the toilet.

  • Reconnect the water supply line and turn the water supply valves back on. Be sure to adjust the flapper so that it sits at the correct length.

  • Perform a few test flushes to make sure everything is working properly and that the noise has subsided.

Sound like a lot of work? No need to worry! The expert plumbers at Uptown are here to help. Give us a call today at 651-315-7995 to schedule an appointment.

5 Essential Items To Have On Hand Before A Power Outage

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Mother Nature often wreaks havoc on neighborhoods without much notice, especially during hurricane season. While some people try to brave it out and wait til the last minute to head out to the store to purchase survival essentials, we highly recommend keeping your house stocked with the items below at all times. After all, you never know when the power will go out and it’s always best to be prepared before a severe storm hits:

  1. Batteries: we can’t tell you how important it is to have batteries stockpiled. You probably don’t realize how many items in your home actually run on batteries and some of the devices can be real lifesavers in the event of a storm.

  2. Chargers: you may be thinking, “how can I use a charger if the power is out” but there are plenty of alternative chargers out there that will work even when there is no electricity. For instance, you can and some portable charger models will give you 8-10 charges before it needs to be recharged, depending on the device.

  3. Personal Care Items: you may not be able to shower if the power goes out, or at least not take a hot shower, so you’ll want to have some personal hygiene items within reach.

  4. Blankets: keep warm blankets on hand in case temperatures drop without warning. Lots of home heating systems run off of electricity so if the power goes out, there may not be a way to heat your home.

  5. Lighter: keeping extra non-perishable food in the house goes without saying, but it’s just as important to keep a few lighters around. If you have a gas stove, you can use a lighter to light the stove to cook food even if the power is out. This is especially convenient if local restaurants lose power, too.

Having a plumbing emergency? For fast same day, quality plumbing services and solutions for your home or business in Minneapolis - St. Paul, call and speak with the team at Uptown Plumbing today.

Keep These Game Day Foods Out Of The Garbage Disposal

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Rejoice! The NFL is back and as we head into the weekend, we’re beyond excited for the games, the food and the friends. We hope you’re whipping up something extra special in terms of game day cuisine, but we ask you to remember to keep the following items out of the garbage disposal:

 

Bones

What’s a football game without chicken wings? We’ll even add ribs to the picture here. Just keep in mind that bones and garbage disposal blades don’t get along well as they can chip or damage the metal. Please throw all bones in the trash can instead!

Stringy Foods

Some love eating the celery that often comes on the side of a plate of wings and others simply won’t go near it. Well if that’s the case and you have extra sticks lying around at the end of the day, do yourself a favor and refrain from throwing it down the disposal. The stringy fibers can wrap around the blades and cause serious problems.

Grease

Frying up bacon for a new recipe you’re trying out? Our mouths are watering just thinking about it! But keep in mind that as the grease cools, it solidifies and that can cause clogs in the drain. We recommend pouring it into a glass jar and throwing it in the trash.

Potato Peels

Whether you’re making potato skins, baked potatoes or fries, keep the peels out of the garbage disposal. They can cause a soupy mess that you won’t want to deal with later on.

With that said, if your guests make a mistake and throw any of the above down the disposal, Uptown Plumbing is here to help. Enjoy being treated with a level of service you should expect and that comes backed with a satisfaction guarantee. Just give us a call at 612-284-5789.

How To Close Up Your Vacation Home For The Season

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It’s just about that time of year - that dreaded time where you have to close up your vacation house for the season, get back to work and get the kids back to school. Summer is coming to an end and it’s time to get ready for cooler temperatures - your summer house is no exception. So, here’s what you need to do to prepare for fall:

  • Turn off the main water line to prevent pipes from freezing as temperatures drop. This includes flushing out water lines and disconnecting hose bibs on the outside of the house.

  • Turn off the gas supply to eliminate the risk of leaks or explosions.

  • Unplug all appliances including telephones, televisions, the dishwasher, washer and dryer and so forth. They can all undergo severe damage if lightning happens to strike.

  • Empty out the refrigerator and cabinets. We recommend donating leftover food rather than throwing it in the trash.

  • Put away outdoor furniture and tidy up the outside living areas. Remember to cover the grill and put the garbage cans in the garage or shed.

  • Take out the trash. Trust us when we tell you it won’t be pleasant to come back to a rotten bag of garbage next year.

  • Lock up! Don’t forget the windows, doors and shed and garage doors.

Need a plumber to help make sure your plumbing system is shut down properly? Call on the experts at Uptown! We’ve been serving the Twin Cities for over 100 years so you know you can count on us!

5 Drain Mistakes You Don't Want To Make

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Summer is winding down and Labor Day Weekend is on the horizon. For most of us, this will be the last weekend of the year to throw an outdoor party for friends and family members and with that said, it’s important to make another attempt at keeping your drains clear. Avoid making the mistakes below so you don’t wind up with a serious plumbing problem this holiday weekend:

 

  1. Coffee Grinds: whether you’re making a pot in the morning to kick off the day or providing your guests with a cup to accompany their dessert, keep the coffee grinds out of the sink. They expand in water and can create a sludge-like substance that could stop up the drain.

  2. Grease and Oil: whether you’re using it to cook or it’s a byproduct of what you’re cooking, grease and oil do not belong down the drain. Even if they’re liquids while they’re hot or while they’re at room temperature, they can solidify after they go down the drain. Pour it into a glass bottle when it cools and toss it in the trash instead.

  3. Fruit: washing fruit? It’s common for a few pieces to fall out into the sink and maybe even into the drain. If this happens, it’s important to grab it right away and toss it in the trash. Fruit skin and fibers don’t break down easily and therefore, can cause clogs.

  4. Syrups: there’s nothing like hot fudge or chocolate syrup on top of your ice cream and lots of great barbecue recipes call for honey and ketchup. With that said, all of these syrupy liquids belong in the trash, not in the sink. Since they’re so thick, it can be difficult to wash them down the drain.

  5. Melted Cheese: this one is similar to grease and oil - just because melty cheese can almost resemble a liquid, it’ll turn back into a solid when it cools. Keep it out of the sink.

For a rapid service and expertise for your drain and sewer cleaning and repairs in Minneapolis–St Paul, rely on the specialists at Uptown Plumbing. We've provided quality service and solutions and are already the trusted choice in thousands of other local resident's homes for their home service needs.

Stock Up At The Farmers Market This Weekend

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The end of summer is fast approaching, but we can assure you the local farms and culinary connoisseurs are working hard to bring you the freshest foods in town! Two of our favorites, Kingfield Farmers Market and Fulton Farmers Market, will be up and running Saturday and Sunday this weekend so be sure to pay them a visit!

Fulton Farmers Market

Saturdays from 8:30am - 1pm

Through October 28th

4901 Chowen Ave. S, Minneapolis

At the market Saturday: everything you need to brighten your day! Fresh cut flowers, heirloom tomatoes, & sweet corn. Plums, apples, & melons. Goat cheese, breads, maple syrup, marinades, & granola. A free drawing for a $50 gift card to Pact Apparel, too! See you there, rain or shine.

Kingfield Farmers Market

Sundays from 8:30am - 1pm

Through October 29th

4310 Nicollet Ave. S, Minneapolis

What began as a pickup truck full of vegetables parked behind Anodyne Coffeehouse has since grown into bustling market with thirty vendors every week and thousands of customers attending every Sunday.  They are a produce-focused market offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables along with prepared foods, coffee, handmade crafts, music, kids activities and more.

At Uptown, giving back to the community is a top priority and there’s no better way to say “thanks” than by stocking up on local fare.

10 Items That Weren't Meant To Be Flushed

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Ever been in a bathroom where the trash can was already overflowing or there was no place to throw garbage at all so you decided to toss it in the toilet instead? You’re not alone. Instead of emptying the trash or walking to another room of the house to throw out your item, it’s easier to just toss it in the bowl, flush it and watch it disappear, right? While that might sound easier, it can cause a world of trouble.

Trust us when we tell you the following items were not meant to be flushed. It may take a bit more effort to get them into a garbage can, but it’ll be well worth it in the long run:

  1. Food: this includes grease, oil or fat. Even though it might be a liquid at any given time, it will cool down and congeal and clog up your pipes.

  2. Wipes: there are lots of wipes out there that say “flushable” on the container. Well, they don’t break down like toilet paper does and they’re a leading cause of toilet clogs across the country.

  3. Dental Floss: it’s thin and bendy so there shouldn’t be any problems, right? Wrong. Floss is not biodegradable and it can wrap around items causing severe clogs.

  4. Cotton: this includes cotton swabs (Q-tips) and cotton balls.

  5. Pills/Expired Medicine: these items can contaminate the groundwater and have toxic effects. Throw them in the trash or find a community-based “take back your meds” program instead of flushing them.

  6. Diapers: there’s human waste inside so it should go in the toilet, right? Again, wrong. They’re made to expand in water so just think about what they’ll do to your pipes.

  7. Tissues: they may seem like toilet paper, but the materials used to make them do not dissolve as easily. Throw them in the trash.

  8. Gum: water won’t do much to break down your gum, so it will likely stick around. You don’t want gum sticking your pipes.

  9. Band-Aids: there’s a spot for them in the trash. They won’t break down in the toilet.

  10. Toys: kids like to play with toys in the bathtub? We don’t have any problems with that, just don’t let them find their way into the toilet bowl.

Our experienced plumbers have seen all causes of toilet blockages and have the equipment and skill to remove them for you quickly. For expert toilet plumbing installations and repairs in your home in Minneapolis-St Paul, call and speak with the friendly plumbing team at Uptown Plumbing today.

What Happens When You Don't Clean Your AC Filter?

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What would happen if you never changed the oil in your car? Or if you stopped answering your text messages? How about if you stopped brushing your teeth or taking a shower? Well, it’s quite clear where we’re going here - if you stopped doing any of these things, chaos would likely ensue. So, what does that have to do with your air conditioner filter? If you stopped paying attention to it, just like the scenarios listed above, you’d find yourself in a world of trouble.

Dust Jams

Part of the air filter’s job is to trap dust and dirt. Why? Well, if it gets into the moving parts, like fan motors or valves, it can cause them to jam up and stop working. As a result, the system can try to draw more power which can cause it to burn out completely or use more energy than it needs to.

Freezing Up

If you haven’t cleaned or replaced the filter in a while and your air conditioner just isn’t blowing cold air like it used to, it could mean the system has frozen up. Dirty filters restrict the flow of cold air which can cause it to build up inside the air conditioner. The final result could be the formation of ice on the coils.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Anyone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma? A dirty filter can make their symptoms much worse. How? Clogged filters can cause allergens to build up in the duct system and then release into the air you breathe each time the system kicks on.

With that said, take this as a reminder to change or replace your air filter. It only takes a few minutes and it makes a world of difference.

Need your air conditioning system serviced or repaired? You’ve come to the right place. The expert HVAC techs at Uptown have over 100 years of experience and there’s no job too big or too small. Call us today at 612-284-5789.

The Most Effective Way To Unclog A Bathroom Sink

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Have a sink that takes forever to drain or one that won’t drain at all? A stoppage in the bathroom sink can become a major nuisance and if you don’t take care of it the right way you can be in for a rude awakening. Not all clogs require a plumber’s expertise, so we’re going to let you in on a few expert tips below:

Why Do Bathroom Sinks Clog In The First Place?

  • Hair

  • Dirt

  • Food

  • Solidified toothpaste

  • Cosmetic items

  • Personal hygiene items

  • Toys

How To Unclog A Bathroom Sink Drain

Loosen the nut on the trap in order to remove the pop-up stem. When you pull it out, it will likely be covered with hair, toothpaste and other sorts of debris so you’ll want to clean it off. However, the stoppage can be below the stopper in the trap. What you’ll need to do is use a drain snake in order to break up the items causing the clog.

How To Prevent Future Clogs

We highly recommend testing your drain stopper to make sure it’s working properly. It should come all the way up and go all the back down so that it creates a seal and nothing can get down the drain. If you don’t have a manual drain stopper, we suggest investing in a drain strainer to catch common clog-causing items from entering the drain.

Having issues unclogging your sink drain? Don’t stress! The expert plumbers at Uptown are always here to help. Just give us a call at 651-315-7995 and we’ll have your sink flowing in no time!