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What’s your favorite Los Angeles neighborhood? We admit to a little bias, but we believe that the South Bay is the city’s best. From Manhattan Beach to Torrance, we have the best beaches, the most comfortable weather, and some of the friendliest residents in Southern California.

Every year it seems that more and more people move here. Buying or renting a house in Hermosa or Redondo is exciting, but you should also heed all of the potential hidden problems that come with moving into a new place. General inspections are usually mandatory before you move, but they don’t always catch everything.

Here are a few issues to be aware of as you transition into your new home.

Leaks

To an untrained professional, leaks can easily go un-detected. In the most extreme cases, they’ll result in a flood, but often they happen out of eye site. Actually, your home was built so that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of the location of your pipes, which is why they’re stuck behind the walls or under the floorboards. A leak could potentially go on for a while before you know it, and cause untold damages in the process.

It’s important to research your pipes before signing on the dotted line of your new home. Older pipes should probably be replaced by an experienced pro. For the best plumber Hermosa Beach has to offer, call Torrance Plumbing and Heating. We’ll inspect your pipes and evaluate their sustainability. For example, if they’re made from PVC, you can expect a much different performance than if they’re 80 years old and built out of copper.

Faulty sewer lines

As you research the pipes, it’s a good idea to take inventory of other plumbing networks as well. If neglected, sewer lines can become a major headache for the new homeowner. Like the home’s pipes, the survival and strength of outdoor lines depends on their age. Recent advancements in piping guarantees that most sewer lines will last a very long time, but if yours wasn’t inspected or repaired in more than, say, 30 years, you should definitely consider an inspection. Otherwise, you could possibly have to reckon with a smelly plumbing emergency.

If you’re reluctant to do a full, official inspection, one warning sign to heed is the presence of trees in your yard. Large, older trees may have deep, wide-spread roots. These can potentially interfere with and even burst an underground sewer line.

Clogged drains
A clogged drain may seem like an unforeseen problem that has more to do with recent events versus a long-term issue with the home. However, barring any large foreign objects that may have fallen down your pipes, clogs usually happen as the result of build-up over time.

Debris can collect inside of a sink’s drain, for example, and after so many years, it will cause the water to back up. The solution is simple. Run a preliminary check on your home’s drains. As you move from room to room, just let the water run for a minute to make sure it properly drains.

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The best way to beat the summer heat is also the most costly. Los Angeles summer temps can run up into the 90s and even 100s, which is why central air conditioning units are so coveted. They help us survive the hot months, but if you’ve watched your electric bill, you know they drive up the cost of living as well.

So what do you do? Cracking windows and running ceiling fans can help on milder days, but they just can’t help a stuffy home during a heat wave. The good news is that there are ways to trim your monthly AC bill that don’t necessarily include using it less. You just need to know where to look.

Static thermostats

Many standard-issue thermostats don’t allow for much flexibility. They give you a little control over the temperature, but that’s about it. What you may not know is there are alternative, money-saving models.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set the indoor temperature to your house or business to a pre-determined number all year long. This will prevent undue fluctuations that may occur automatically, and without your knowledge. The most dynamic models will also allow you to set specific temps for specific areas, so that cold, expensive air isn’t unnecessarily distributed. Some experts estimate that this little change can save you over $180 per year.

Dirty coils

Although they seem harmless enough, a dirty coil can dramatically affect your AC’s performance. In effect, it “tricks” your unit by making it think it’s not providing the required amount of cold air, when in fact the coils are just degrading the output.

If your AC’s air feels less cool than usual, call the best plumber Beverly Hills has to offer. Torrance Plumbing and Heating’s trained technicians know their way around central air systems. Whether it’s one of the retail shops along Rodeo Drive or at the Montage Hotel, we can clean or replace your worn, dirty coils, and get your system running at full performance once again.

Lack of maintenance

Like your car, regular tune-ups of your central air unit are required to keep it operating smoothly. Whether it’s to clean the coils or replace a dirty air filter, a professional can make sure the unit is maintaining 100% efficiency. At first, having an annual check-up might sound like a costly and unnecessary idea. But you have to think of it like an investment. The expense spent on an expert’s service will be much cheaper than having to buy a new unit a few years down the road after it loses power, or breaks down altogether.

According to sources, AC models can lose up to 25% efficiency after 5 years without regular check-ups. In order to get the most bang for your buck, make sure get yours regularly serviced.

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Have you tested your handy man skills lately? Whether it was a clogged toilet, loose screw, or maybe you changed a light bulb, you probably had to fix something yourself recently. Calling a professional is always a good idea if you feel out of your element, and certainly the best solution if you have a real plumbing emergency on your hands.

But it never hurts to understand the basics. If you encounter a small issue around the house, it’ll save you time and even money if you can perform the simple repair on your own. Here a few basic insider tips so that you can familiarize yourself with your home’s plumbing.

Know your sewer lines

It’s always good to know where to access your home’s sewer lines. Although you should never try to fix a flooded sewer line, knowing where to locate it will help speed up the repair. But the best option is to prevent a flood in the first place. For reliable preventative cleaning, use a live enzyme cleaner. Basically, you just have to add some to your toilet bowl, and it consumes the debris in your pipes.

Be nice to your garbage disposal

Disposals are great for their convenience, but they can clog easily. Common sense dictates that you shouldn’t toss anything into them that you haven’t diced up first. However, in our experience, you should always avoid putting large quantities of coffee and grains down the drain. They can congeal and make for serious clogging.

Don’t skimp on fixtures

It’s tempting to try and save a little money by buying budget fixtures, but cheap products yield cheap performance. If you spend a little more on, say, a solidly-built, high-efficiency toilet, it’ll last. To make it a good investment, call the best plumber Santa Monica has to offer. Torrance Plumbing and Heating will install the toilet, or whatever fixture you need, quickly and handily. We’ll make it’s built to withstand the test of time.

Locate your water main

In the event of a busted pipe or other plumbing issue resulting in flood, or if you need to turn off the water for repairs, you should know where the water main is located. The main refers to the line that connects your home or apartment complex to the community line. Speaking of complexes, if you live in an apartment or condo, find out if there’s one main line for the building, or individual lines for each unit.

Try home remedies first

Clogged drains are among the most common plumbing problems. It’s easy to reach for the nearest store-bought product to cleanse the pipe, but next time try a home remedy instead. Mixing hot water and baking soda can often unclog a build up of debris in your sink. This way you don’t have to introduce potentially toxic chemicals into your pipes and water. If the clog persists, you can then try stronger chemicals or even call a plumber.

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Summer time in Los Angeles means hotter temperatures.  Even with the cool ocean breezes that the South Bay is known for, Torrance can still heat up uncomfortably.  For those of us who can’t get comfortable outside in the shade, we turn to our AC units for solace.

For those of us in Southern California who are lucky enough to have central air, we don’t take it for granted.  That’s why we instantly notice when it stops working.  Hot, stuffy air not only makes our day to day lives uncomfortable and irritating.

So if you find yourself facing a seemingly broken AC unit that’s not producing any cold air, here are a few steps to bringing it back to life.  

Thermostat

The first thing to always do is check your thermostat.  Sounds obvious, right?  But you’d be surprised how many people overlook this step.  Often times the problem is as simple as making sure the mode is correctly set to “Cool.”  Before you dig any deeper into your non-functioning unit, make sure you check this first.

Even a service technician will most certainly give this a look prior to trying anything more complicated.  Do you really want to have to pay someone to come to your home and press a button?

Breaker

Electricity typically relies on a complicated network of circuits in order to operate.  It’s almost surprising then that the most direct way to fix a common electrical problem is by flipping the circuit breaker.

If the thermostat on your AC unit seems to be working despite a lack of cold air, you need to check the breaker.  Usually your home’s breakers are located in a box that’s mounted on a wall, typically in an out of the way place like a basement.  Examine the breakers and fuses to see if any of them might need replacing. 

Overflow tray

Not all units have a condensate pump, but if yours does, check the tray or reservoir nearby.  Sometimes too much water in the tray can trigger a sensor, which will shut down the entire system.  If the tray has reached capacity, then try emptying it.

If you’ve attempted all of these steps and you’re still wanting for more cold air, then it’s time to call in a professional plumber.  Plumbers obviously work on clogged drains and leaky pipes, but some of us also specialize in AC and heating units.  For the best plumber Los Angeles has to offer, call Torrance Plumbing and Heating.  Using years of expertise from Manhattan Beach to Santa Monica, we’ll identify the problem with your air conditioning, and send out a trained technician to repair it.

Miscellaneous parts

If your problem has more to do with poor air flow from the vents, then you may want to inspect your air filter.  Like cars, a dirty air filter can inhibit the flow of cool, clean air.  Sometimes fixing the problem can be as simple as replacing this part.  Additionally, while it may be difficult to locate it in full, you may try to examine the AC’s ductwork to make sure it hasn’t become disconnected in places.

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When it comes to home repairs, Torrance residents are pretty savvy.  We may not be professional contractors exactly, but generally we know enough to improvise our way through a clogged toilet or leaky faucet.

However, sometimes there are problems that we just don’t know how to handle – partially because we’re not licensed professionals, but also because we couldn’t see any obvious signs of trouble.  I’m talking about your home’s “hidden” plumbing, the pipes and pieces located behind the walls, under the floorboards, or outside the home.

For these locations, you don’t often know how serious a problem is until it’s too late.  But don’t worry.  By watching out for warning signs – and with a little preventative maintenance – you can hopefully avoid an unforeseen emergency altogether.  Here are a few plumbing areas to consider:

Sewer lines

By carrying waste away from our homes, sewer lines bring much convenience to our lives.  Unfortunately, they can also wreak havoc.   In the worst breakdowns, they can send gross waste water back up our pipes and into our bathtubs and sinks.  Not to mention, they can ruin our lawns. 

Typically, the problem starts from tree roots.  It’s not uncommon (especially with older homes) for roots to break or collapse old lines.  Frustratingly, you would never know this is happening underground.

Typical signs to watch for are clogged drains, or unusual activity among your fixtures.  For example, if the bathtub overflows when you flush your toilet, the sewer might be responsible.  In this case, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.  For the best plumber Los Angeles has to offer, call Torrance Plumbing & Heating.  No matter where you live in the South Bay, we can fix the blocked line, as well as any chaos it’s caused in your home.

Water heaters

In a way, water heaters control the main functions of your home’s plumbing.  Yet ironically, you wouldn’t necessarily notice if they started to fail.  Unlike, say, a clogged drain, a faulty heater doesn’t manifest itself in overly obvious ways.  You have to keep an eye out for the clues.

If the temperature of your shower has consistently waned over time, this could be a symptom of a bigger problem.  Likewise, consistently weak water pressure can indicate that the heater is slowly failing.

If you’re unsure about their efficacy, it never hurts to give them a quick inspection.  A fast way to tell (although it’s rare) is if there’s a large puddle surrounding it.  More subtle clues would be the plumbing lines around it (do they look worn?), and the heater’s age.  If it’s more than ten years old, it may be faulty.

Pipes

Manhattan Beach residents know that most pipes in their homes are impossible to see.  But if you have access to your home’s original plans, you can determine their location.  However, for a burst pipe, you may not need a diagram; instinct can probably identify it for you based on the flooded areas.

Again, it’s almost impossible to predict an issue, but knowing your home’s history can help.  As a general rule, if you have older pipes, you should call a plumber for a check up.  Nobody wants to deal with flooded floors.

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Now that winter is finally gone and summer is on the horizon, it’s a great time to start spring cleaning.

For some of us, it’s the one time of year when we take our normal cleaning to the next level by sweeping out every corner of the house, dusting every nook and cranny, and of course, finishing all those projects we may have been putting off.

If not this year, you’ve probably come across some plumbing issues in the past.  They’re inevitable given the amount of water we use.  If you let them go too long, an inconvenience can become a major disaster.

Luckily, a lot of problems can be fixed on your own, if you’re inclined to summon your inner handyman.

Of course, if you’re wary of getting in over your head, or if the issue is just too big, we recommend you contact a real professional.  For the best residential plumber Los Angeles has to offer, call Torrance Plumbing and Heating.  We’re experts in all manner of jobs, and are always happy to help, whether it’s a DIY project gone awry, or a major repair.

However, if you choose to break out your own toolbox, here are a few common jobs you can do yourself.

Toilet seat replacement.   First, know what kind of toilet you have.  Most modern toilets use a 5 ½ inch bolt spread.  If you can’t unscrew the mounting bolt to the seat by hand, simply use a screwdriver to remove it.  Once you’ve set aside the old seat, replace it with the new one, and reinstate the mounting nut.  Once you’ve screwed on the new seat, you’re all done!

Trip lever replacement.  If the flusher isn’t working on your toilet, it may be the result of a faulty trip lever (i.e., the part inside the tank that’s connected to the flusher).  To remove the lever, unhook the toilet flapper, and unscrew the old lever by hand.  Replace it with the new lever and using a wrench, tighten the lever only slightly (you don’t want to crack your tank).

Clean your shower head.  If your shower head is losing power or appears to be clogged, it probably needs to be cleaned.  First, unscrew the nut between the shower head and the arm.  Place the shower head in a bucket full of warm vinegar (vinegar is a great, safe cleaning agent), and let sit for about half an hour.  Then wipe it with a rag.  If the mineral deposits don’t come off, try using a toothbrush for scrubbing.

Unclog a drain.  If your kitchen or bathroom sink is backing up, and plunging it isn’t doing the trick, it’s time to clean the trap.  After locating the J-shaped trap under your sink, place a bucket underneath to catch any water.  Unscrew the nuts on either side of the “J”, remove the trap and the O ring.  Clean the trap of any debris, and replace all the parts in the order they came out.  Remember not to over tighten the nuts; that may crack the trap.

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We’ve all been there.  A plumbing problem arises and we have to hire someone to work in our home.  This can be a stressful situation.  Not only is your house under duress, but you now have a stranger working in your personal space.

How do you know you can trust your plumber?  This doesn’t apply to just private residences either.  Maybe you run a business and a sink overflowed.  You’ll want to hire the best commercial plumber Los Angeles can offer.  But no matter what your water problem is, you can count on Torrance Plumbing and Heating.

For over ninety years, we’ve built a reputation on dependable service.  From Santa Monica to Manhattan Beach, we never take advantage of our customers.

We have the credentials and experience to back up our claims, but unfortunately the same can’t be said for all plumbing companies.

If you’re considering hiring a plumber to repair something in your home, then here are a few basic tips to keep in mind.

Get an estimate in writing 

After the plumber inspects and analyzes the problem in your home or business, ask him to spell out his estimate on paper.  Watch out for those who describe the plan verbally, but promise to send you the estimate later.  They never will.  Get it in writing before the project starts.

Another thing to watch out for is the dirt-cheap estimate.  Anyone who says he’ll fix your water heater at an astonishing discount is probably desperate, and possibly unqualified for the job.

Be weary of extra sub contractors

Sometimes when a plumber is courting your services, he may indicate or even specify that he’ll be fixing that leaky faucet or clogged sink himself.

But then a curious thing happens.  After the job begins, you start to notice that your house is suddenly full of sub contractors or “assistants”.  Who are all these people exactly?

It’s not uncommon for a plumber to have an apprentice.  However, what some unscrupulous contractors do is hire on extra friends and family.  He’ll delegate his responsibilities to them, whether or not they’re qualified.

Make sure you get him to commit to number of workers up front, and to notify you if he has to bring anyone else on.

Don’t get punished for your address

If you or your business resides in an affluent part of the city, a plumber may charge you more.  He may look at the nice homes and expensive amenities and figure you’ll never notice – or won’t care – if he hits you with an exaggerated estimate.

Residents of, say, Malibu or the Pacific Palisades might be targets of unfair price gouging; they shouldn’t stand for it.

If you’re suspicious, ask him to spell out the cost of all parts and labor.  You can at least check the charges for parts via the internet or your local hardware store.

Beware scare tactics

Some plumbers will try to play on your fear, suggesting that if you don’t accept their work at their inflated rate, you’re headed for disaster.

Unfortunately, this is more common among the elderly, and sometimes single women.  Don’t fall for it.  If you smell a scam, move on to the next plumber.