DIY Toilet Repair

According to HomeAdvisor, it costs $208 on average to repair a broken toilet. In Raleigh, North Carolina, plumbers charge an average of $273! But if you understand the basics of how a toilet works, you can fix several of the most common toilet problems with a little DIY toilet repair. This guide explains why your toilet is breaking and how you can fix a broken toilet without calling a plumber.

My Toilet Will Not Flush

When your toilet is overflowing, you need help quickly. If your toilet isn’t flushing all the way, there’s an issue with the flush valve. The flush valve is at the bottom of your toilet tank. It’s lifted by a chain to let the water drain, or flush, from the toilet. Pop the lid off your toilet tank and inspect the chain. Is it still securely attached to the flush valve, or has it come loose? Secure the chain to the flush valve so the valve lifts high enough to drain your toilet when you flush. Fix this problem as soon as you notice it, before you have to deal with your toilet overflowing.

My Toilet Is Clogged

A clogged toilet means the drain pipe is obstructed by something. Don’t keep flushing a clogged toilet or you may find that your toilet is flooding! In most instances, you can use a plunger to unclog the toilet. The plunger creates a seal over the drain, and the suction as you pull up on the plunger should loosen and remove whatever is clogging the toilet.

My Toilet Will Not Stop Running

If your toilet is constantly making noise and won’t stop running, the flush valve isn’t closed. Lift up your toilet tank lid and check on the flush valve. It may be a problem with the valve itself, in which case you’ll want to replace the flush valve. The issue could also be with the chain that connects to the flush valve. If it’s tangled, kinked, or doesn’t have enough slack, it could prevent the valve from closing properly.

There’s Water Under the Toilet Tank

If there’s water underneath your toilet, you want to figure out where it’s coming from. It’s unlikely that it’s because the toilet is flooding or overflowing – loose screws and washers are the more likely culprits. Just grab a wrench and open up the toilet tank lid. Tighten up the screws and make sure you’ve got washers in place to strengthen the seals. The fill valve has a washer that might need to be replaced. You’ll also want to tighten the coupling nut that connects the water supply line to the toilet, and the lock nut connecting the supply line and the fill valve. Put a towel under the toilet to catch any drips before you start tightening.

The Toilet Tank Fills Slowly

If your toilet tank takes forever to fill up after you flush it, your shutoff valve might be partially closed. The shutoff valve connects the toilet to the wall. Make sure it is unscrewed all the way by turning the valve counterclockwise (righty tighty, lefty loosey!) Try to flush the toilet again, and see if it fills more quickly this time.

Help! My Toilet Is Still Broken!

If you’ve tried every internet remedy you can find (or are just reluctant to go the DIY route), call Newcomb and Company. We’ll diagnose and repair your toilet in one visit, so you can stop watching those YouTube repair videos and get back to your life!

Need help? Call now.


Wake Forest Meet in the Street 2018

We’re so excited for this year’s Meet in the Street in Wake Forest on Saturday, May 5th from 10 am – 5 pm. Want more family fun? We’ve created a printable bingo board – just find five in a row, and come to the Newcomb and Company booth to receive your prize! After stopping by our booth, don’t forget to check out some of the other awesome events, musical productions, and entertainment.

This is the 38th annual Meet in the Street, and the music and food promises to be the best yet. Pack some chairs or blankets and head to Owen Street to hear live music all day long, or check out the Performance Plaza on Taylor Street. You’ll see martial arts shows, ballet, baton performances, and a magician. The Beer Garden is sponsored by White Street Brewing Company – you’ll find it in the Fidelity parking lot on Owen Street, so it’s the best place to enjoy the music from the main stage.

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling a variety of wares, and the Young Entrepreneur’s Fair at the Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce on White Street will feature works by our youngest entrepreneurs, some as young as nine years old! You’ll fill up on Fully Loaded Fritters, Kona Ice, Pelican’s SnoBalls, Lumpy’s Ice Cream, Big Al’s, and other food from your favorite Wake Forest food trucks.

Take the free shuttle from Sam’s Club in Wake Forest, or ride a rickshaw if you get tired once you’re there. If you’ve got little ones, don’t forget to stop by the Children’s Village on Taylor Street, where you’ll find arts and crafts activities and bounce houses. Keep your eye out for Muddy the Mudcat, the Carolina Mudcats mascot! Love the Mudcats? So do we! Enter to win free tickets to see the Carolina Mudcats, or stop by our Newcomb and Company booth at Meet in the Street to learn more. We’ll see you in the street!

 

 

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A/C Maintenance Checklist

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your air conditioner and help you save money on bills. If you have a maintenance agreement with an HVAC company in Raleigh, you don’t have to worry about DIY air conditioner maintenance. But if you want to know how to maintain your air conditioning unit on your own, here’s a quick guide to the things you should and shouldn’t do.

  • Before you start, you’ll need to turn off the power on the exterior shut-off box. You may want to turn off the power from the breaker, as well.
  • Locate the fan cage, which may be screwed into the top of your unit. Remove the cage and vacuum inside using a wet/dry vacuum.
  • Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean the fins. (These are part of the metal grill or grate on the outside of the HVAC unit.) Be careful as the fins are very fragile.
  • As you vacuum, examine the fins. If condenser fins are bent, you can straighten them with a butter knife. Use caution so you don’t damage the tubing inside. If the fins are severely bent or there are many bent fins, don’t try to fix them all yourself. A professional should straighten them.
  • Find the small, dripping condensate drain line – it typically empties into your air conditioner drain pan or onto the ground. Push a stiff, thin wire brush through the opening to clear out any slime that may have accumulated.
  • Examine the area around the unit. Cut back plants and vegetation to keep pollen and plant materials from dirtying your condenser fins.

If this AC maintenance checklist seems too complex, there’s one easy, important thing you can do to make your HVAC system more efficient. Change the air filter. Filters should be replaced whenever they are dirty, or at least every other month. The Department of Energy estimates that replacing your HVAC filter with a clean one can lower energy consumption by up to 15%!

When choosing a new air conditioner filter, bring the old filter with you so you can choose the right size and type. Avoid HEPA filters and purifying filters; they don’t let as much air pass through, and the reduced airflow can cause the coils to freeze.

General air conditioner maintenance doesn’t require more than a couple of hours, and you’ll only need a few basic tools: a wet/dry vacuum, a thin wire brush, and possibly a screwdriver and/or butter knife. Your air conditioner unit should undergo a deeper spring cleaning at least once a year. While you can do many basic maintenance tasks yourself, there are some things that only a professional technician can do during a maintenance appointment, such as:

  • Check the refrigerant levels.
  • Clean the air ducts to ensure proper airflow.
  • Clear a clogged air duct.
  • Use a leak detector to find and repair any leaks.
  • Measure airflow through your evaporator coils to ensure there are no blockages.
  • Check the accuracy of your thermostat.
  • Clean and lubricate your blower.

You don’t need to have your coolant levels checked or your airflow measured every month, but you should occasionally call in the experts to make sure your HVAC unit is working as well as it could be. Catching leaks and clogs early can save you huge headaches – and bills – in the future.

Need help? Call now.


How to Tell If the Humidity in My Home Is Too High

When the humidity is above 50%, the air can feel muggy and sticky. The excess moisture in the air can wreak havoc on your home and your body. How can you tell if you have high humidity?

How to Tell If You Have High Humidity

Fog on your windows is one of the clearest indicators of high humidity. You might see dark, wet stains on your ceiling or walls. If you see a new stain on your walls, don’t ignore it! Wet spots can lead to mold and mildew, which are another symptom of high humidity. Even if you can’t see the spores, your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room may smell musty or dank. Wallpaper can start to bubble, and the paint on your walls might peel. High humidity can lead to fungus, bacteria, and mold. Pests like termites, dust mites, and cockroaches, thrive in this type of warm, moist environment, and their presence can lead to health issues.

If you notice that your hair is frizzier than usual, that could be a sign that your humidity is too high. Elderly people, children, and people with asthma might have a harder time breathing, and coughing, sneezing, and congestion may become an issue. The humid air has more water and less oxygen, which makes it more difficult to breathe.

How to Lower Humidity In Your Home

Bathrooms and kitchens are high in humidity because running showers and sinks can quickly add moisture to the air. Reduce high humidity by opening a window or using a fan when you’re taking a shower, cooking, or washing dishes. Air conditioners can help; those drain pans are actually filling up with water that your AC unit removes from the air. If high humidity is a serious problem in your home, you may want to consider adding a dehumidifier to your central air conditioning unit.

You can learn more about how to control humidity levels in your home here.

Need help? Call now.


How to Tell If the Humidity in My House Is Too Low

What is low humidity? If the humidity is less than 15%, the dry air can actually cause health issues to you and damage to your home.

How to Tell If You Have Low Humidity

You can purchase a hygrometer to measure humidity levels, or you can try this simple test for humidity. Put a few ice cubes in a glass and place the glass in the room with low humidity. Leave it alone (and stay out of the room) for a few minutes. When you return, look for water droplets on the outside of the glass. If you see them, your humidity is likely fine. If your glass isn’t ‘sweating,’ then you may have low humidity in that room.

How Low Humidity Affects Your Home

Very dry air can warp or even split wood furniture, doors, and floors. It can also dry out caulk or glue, causing it to shrink. This will create gaps around your doors, windows, and fixtures. Conditioned air can leak out of these gaps, leading to higher energy bills as your HVAC system works to compensate for a less efficient home.

How Low Humidity Affects Your Body

Breathing in dry air is uncomfortable. Air that’s low in moisture leaches water from your body, causing dry skin and rough, chapped lips. As you breathe in air that’s low in humidity, your nasal passages dry up. To compensate, your body produces more mucus and you might end up with a stuffy nose. Dry air is also breeding ground for viruses – especially the flu, which one study showed is best transmitted at 20% humidity.

How to Increase Humidity In Your Home

There are several ways to add moisture to the air. Boiling a pot of water is the easiest and least expensive way to quickly increase the humidity in your kitchen and surrounding rooms. You can purchase portable humidifiers to raise low humidity in your bedroom and other rooms upstairs, but these require cleaning and maintenance and will only affect a small part of your house. If low humidity is a chronic problem in your home, consider adding a central humidifier to your HVAC system. A central humidifier can control humidity in your whole house and is more efficient than multiple portable humidifiers.

You can learn more about how to control humidity levels in your home here.

Need help? Call now.


Help! I’ve Got Critters In My Pipes!

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Forget lions and tigers and bears. When it comes to plumbing problems, you should really be thinking about frogs and snakes and squirrels. Oh my!

Believe it or not, some critters can crawl, creep or wriggle their way into your pipes, causing clogs of a truly surprising variety. Animal invasion may be an unlikely plumbing problem, but if it happens, it will probably start with a baffling flood and only end when you grab a broom and frantically sweep the poor offending creature out the door.

HOW DO CRITTERS GET INTO MY PLUMBING?

It all starts with the sewer. Waste water leaves your house and heads to the sewer (or your septic tank) through your plumbing pipes. But most of the time, those pipes are dry, and sewer gases can travel back up them into your home. How do you solve that problem? With something called a stack pipe. This fixture allows sewer gases that may build up in your waste pipes to vent out of the top of your home, ensuring that less-than-pleasant smells don’t make their way back in. Pipes from each of your drains also have traps, or curves, that perform the same function.

Basically, what this means is that you have an open line from the top of your house into your plumbing system. A truly determined (or just confused!) critter can make its way into your pipes from the roof. If it tries hard enough, it can navigate the traps in one of your pipes, making its disoriented egress into your toilet or your kitchen sink.

HOW DO I KEEP THEM OUT?

There’s a simple way to avoid this problem: put either a DIY mesh screen or a store-bought protector on your stack pipes. Fixed!

OH NO! SOMETHING CRAWLED OUT OF MY TOILET!

If you investigate your overflowing toilet and discover something with eyes, you need to know how to handle the critter in question. Read on for a rundown of the most common offenders and how to deal with them.

1. Possums

Believe it or not, a baby possum can easily fit through a stack pipe. If you head to the bathroom and get stopped by your favorite marsupial, don’t try to pick it up! Possums are known for carrying rabies, and they’re biters, to boot. Leave the possum in the potty (and close the lid!), call animal control, and ask the neighbors to borrow their facilities until a professional can deal with the problem.

2. Lizards

If you’re having a particularly dry summer, the lizard population in your yard may be looking for water wherever they can find it — including your plumbing. Most lizards are completely harmless, but they’re fast, and you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on the little guys. Don’t worry. He doesn’t want to be dealing with you any more than you want to be dealing with him! If you give him half a chance, he’ll head for the hills. Just open the back door and sweep him on out.

3. Frogs and Toads

Ribbit! Everyone’s favorite amphibian will likely have a hard time making it to your roof — unless it’s a tree frog, which are prevalent across the southeast, and make their raucous presence known every summer evening. There are six families of frogs in North Carolina, and none of them is harmful, so catch him if you can!

Toads, on the other hand, are potentially poisonous. The invasive cane toad, while rarely deadly, will cause an unpleasant reaction if you touch him and will make your pets sick if ingested. If your jumper is brown and warty, try to catch him with gloves on, trap him inside a bowl, or just get him to jump to the floor so you can sweep him outside.

4. Snakes

This one probably goes without saying, but unless you’re certain that you’re dealing with a harmless species, don’t catch a snake with your bare hands. There are many snake species native to North Carolina, and while some are harmless — the rat snake, for instance — some, like the famous copperhead, are truly deadly. Watch out, in particular, for any snake with variegated color or a triangular head — it’s more likely to be venomous.

GET HELP FAST WITH NEWCOMB AND COMPANY

While we can’t remove your critter, Newcomb and Company can fix your plumbing problem! We even have a 24/7 emergency line for plumbing crises. Whether you need to discuss animal dangers or just schedule regular service,we’ll be glad to hear from you.

Need help? Call now.


The Durham Bulls and Newcomb & Company: Two Triangle Traditions

iStock_000057139416_SmallWhat are some of your favorite thoughts about summer?

If you’re like Newcomb and Company, one of them goes like this:

The sun is shining, the grass glows green, you’ve got a Coke and a hot dog, and there’s a batter up — it’s a perfect day at the ballpark. The Durham Bulls, the Triangle’s well-loved minor league baseball team, are playing. Maybe you’re here because America’s favorite pastime is your favorite, too. Maybe you’ve seen Bull Durham, the 1988 Kevin Costner movie based on the Bulls, and decided to see the action for yourself. Whatever the reason, you sit back as the dust flies on the diamond and think, yup … life’s pretty good.

TWO TRIANGLE TRADITIONS

Newcomb and Company loves the Bulls too, and believe it or not, we have a lot in common. We’re both Triangle institutions; the team that became the Bulls started back in 1902 as the Durham Tobacconists, and they’ve been entertaining Triangle residents in their current form since 1913. That’s more than 100 years of rich history, and you’re a part of it every time you take a seat.

Newcomb and Company’s history doesn’t date back quite that far — but then again, neither does air conditioning! 40 years after the inception of the Bulls, in 1954, Newcomb and Company opened its doors to the newly heated and cooled public. We’ve been the Triangle’s most trusted A/C service company ever since. For those counting, that’s 60 years of innovation and integrity in our field and unparalleled service to residential and commercial customers.

THE TIMES, THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’

Just like the Durham Bulls, Newcomb and Company has changed with the times. The Bulls built a bigger, better ballpark, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, in 1998; a few years later, in 2013, DBAP hosted the largest baseball fan crowd that has ever gathered in our state. Likewise, Newcomb and Company has expanded. We’ve set up shop in Wilmington, and we offer plumbing services to complement our A/C offerings.

So if you wake up in the middle of night to find that your kitchen is wetter than a rainy day on the diamond, give us a call; we provide 24/7 emergency plumbing repairs! And if you get home from the game to find that the heat of the day has followed you into your house, we can help get you back to comfort.

Get an estimate, schedule a service, or give us a call at (919) 862-3000 in Raleigh or (919) 392-2030 in Wilmington. As a full-service repair and maintenance company, Newcomb and Company is here to help you keep what matters most running at its best. After all — you can’t fully enjoy a day with your local sports heroes if you’re worried about home repairs, can you?

Need help? Call now.