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Experience Counts: Garbage Disposals

Experience Counts: Garbage Disposals

If you have a garbage disposal, you know how handy it can be when you are the washing dishes and disposing of waste. Frequently, we get calls from our tenants, complaining about clogged or frozen garbage disposals or the kitchen drain backing up. Unfortunately, some of our tenants think the garbage disposal can dispose of everything but the kitchen sink, leading to problems and a mess.

If not operated or maintained properly, a garbage disposal can break down or lock. Clogged or blocked disposals can cause nightmares for the tenant, owner and property manager.

Here are a few tips and tricks for the proper care and feeding of your garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal Do’s:

  • To keep your garbage disposal clean, pour a little dish soap in the disposal and run it for a minute or so with cold water to get rid of any foul smells. Running a little ice in it is also helpful.
  • Try to remember turn on your disposal once in a while to prevent rust and corrosion and ensure that all parts stay spinning. This prevents obstructions from accumulating.
  • Grind food waste with COLD WATER. Cold water helps keep grease or oils in a more solid state so that they can be ground down.
  • Lastly I like to recommend that my tenants use the disposal for only the smallest scraps or those miscellaneous items that manage to make it down the drain. If you are cutting veggies for a salad or juice for example, place a paper towel in the sink and save all the scraps for a compost pile or toss in your green waste trash. Either way, the greens don’t easily grind up, so throwing it in the trash is the best option.

Garbage Disposal Dont’s:

  • Don’t put anything in the disposal that is not biodegradable. A garbage disposal is not a trash can and is for food scraps only. Non food items can damage both blades and the motor.
  • Don’t pour grease, oil or fat into your garbage disposal or drain. Grease will slowly accumulate and impede your garbage disposal’s grinding ability as well as clog drains.
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and food to soften clogging the disposal and causing drains to clog.
  • Don’t grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes. Fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains .
  • Don’t turn off the motor or water until grinding is completed. When grinding is complete, turn off the the garbage disposal first. Let water continue to run for at least 15 seconds, flushing out any remaining particles. Then turn off water.
  • Don’t put too many potato peels down the garbage disposal. The starches in the potatoes will turn into a thick paste and may cause blades to stick.
  • Don’t put large amounts of food down the garbage disposal. Feed food into the garbage disposal a little at a time with the cold water running; this will help the food scraps flow down freely through the drain pipes and plumbing.
  • Don’t put expandable foods into your garbage disposal. Foods like pasta and rice expand when you add water in a pot; they do the same thing once inside your pipes or garbage disposal and are the cause of many jams and clogs.
  • Don’t grind animal bones. (throw in the trash)
  • Avoid  putting coffee grounds down the garbage disposal. They won’t harm the garbage disposal and they’ll actually help eliminate odors. However, they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs. Best to avoid.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They can damage blades and pipes. Borax is a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer that effectively works on odor-causing mold and mildew that accumulates in garbage disposals.
Experience Counts: Don’t flush these

Experience Counts: Don’t flush these

IMG_1093On a recent Friday night, I received a call from a panicked tenant complaining that water was leaking from the ceiling below the second floor bathroom into kitchen. After first asking the tenant to turn off the water to the house, I called my plumber and then went over to diagnose the problem

A quick inspection didn’t yield an obvious cause to the leak so we turned on the water try to chase it down. We couldn’t tell where the water was leaking from so we were forced to cut holes in the kitchen ceiling to see where the water was leaking from. The only obvious source was the toilet area but to be sure, we removed the toilet and cut another hole in the drywall behind the toilet. After looking through these openings in the drywall we realized there wasn’t a broken water line after all.

The water was backing up the toilet drain line through the flange in the toilet and out into the cavity between the ceiling and floor above! So we snaked out the toilet drain line and discovered Clorox wipes wrapped around the snake.

Clorox wipes or similar products won’t flush down in the toilet!

The wipes were caught in the toilet drain line, causing the water to back up through the toilet flange. Bottom line — it was tenant caused. They were using Clorox wipes to clean the bathroom and and then flushing them down the toilet.

These wipes do not break down in the sewer lines like toilet paper. They get caught inside the drain line and snag anything else coming down from the toilet, causing the toilet to back up. Yuck!Don't Flush This5

According to the California Association of Real Estate Lease Agreement, Item 11a:

“Tenant shall be charged to repair drain blockages or stoppages unless caused by defective plumbing parts or tree roots invading sewer lines.”

Tenant caused damage is the tenant’s responsibility. Between the plumbing bill and drywall repair, the flushing of wipes of this type will cost the tenant between $1000-$1500.

Experience Counts: CO Detectors

Experience Counts: CO Detectors

California law dictates that Carbon Monoxide Detectors are mandatory in all homes: (The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 13260 et seq.) was signed into law in 2010. It requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy.”)

Like you, I’ve been confused about the proper placement and installation of those detectors, so here is what I found.

If you have any fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or attached garage, you must have a CO detector/alarm.

Before purchasing a CO detector, know what your state or municipal government requires. Usually a search of the state’s website or call to the local building division will get you headed in the right direction. The basis for these requirements evolved, in part, from recommendations by the 2005 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) carbon monoxide guidelines.

Carbon Monoxide Detector2CO detectors can be purchased from most home improvement, hardware, and some office supply stores. Be aware that some are battery powered and some are electric with battery backup. You may have a choice of stand alone CO detectors or combination smoke/CO. When choosing a combination unit, the alarms must be distinguishable. As dictated by the fire code in your particular area, you may only “need” a minimum number of detectors in your home. But in this case, a little redundancy can be a great thing.  Think more, not less.

Installation locations will vary by manufacturer due to the degree of research conducted on that specific type and style of detector. Read and clearly understand the instructions specific to your unit. They are not all the same.

These are some general guidelines common to most manufacturers:

  • Alarms should be placed on every level of your home, including the basement, and near or over any attached garage.
  • They should be located within 10-15 feet outside of each separate sleeping area.
  • Detectors can be placed on the wall or the ceiling as specified in the installation instructions.
  • Do not install detectors within 15-20 feet of any furnace or fuel burning heat source.
  • Detectors should not be placed in or near humid areas, such as bathrooms.
  • Place alarms in areas where they will not be damaged by children or pets.
  • Do not install alarms in direct sunlight or areas subjected to temperature extremes. (crawlspaces, unfinished attics, porches)
  • They should not be installed behind curtains or other obstructions.
  • Alarms may not function as designed if installed near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh air returns, or open windows.
  • Life expectancy for detectors will be specific to each manufacturer’s recommendations. Carbon monoxide detectors actually have an expiration date, so check with the manufacturer instructions to determine how long the carbon monoxide detector is supposed to last and maintain your specific unit accordingly.

I hope this helps!

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