Roto-Rooter Blog

  • New Roto-Rooter TV Commercials for New England Feature Jason Hawes

    We are excited to talk about three new television commercials that Roto-Rooter recently shot with Jason Hawes, star of the Sy Fy Channel reality TV series, Ghost Hunters. As most fans of the show realize, Jason is a Roto-Rooter service technician by day and a ghost hunter by night. That fact is made clear in the series.

    Jason Hawes on the setAdvertising for service businesses like Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service has changed a lot over the years. Back before the Internet and rise of cable TV, there were just three TV networks in the U.S. It made sense then for Roto-Rooter to use television ads to inform the public about our services. But fast forward to 2014 and look how much Americans’ viewing habits have changed. There are well over 200 channel choices on television if you have cable –and most of us do. In other words, if you use a pizza to represent all the TV viewers in the United States then cut that pizza into 200+ slices to represent all of the channels, it’s increasingly difficult to reach lots of viewers without advertising on dozens of channels. That’s an expensive proposition and it’s simply not as effective as digital advertising.

    But there are certain markets and certain times when TV advertising can still be as effective as targeted web-based ads. The TV stations in Providence reach the entire state of Rhode Island and are also picked up throughout New England over the air. Jason Hawes is one of Rhode Island’s favorite sons and he is well recognized and respected by viewers in his hometown. The fact is that we’ve been discussing such a plan for years but the stars did not align perfectly for this project until last summer. Jason was on a brief hiatus from shooting Ghost Hunters and we had just enough time to develop scripts, find a shooting location and get it shot before Jason’s schedule got too busy to fit it in.

    Now that the three commercials have been completed, we’ve decided to make them available to Roto-Rooter franchises in other parts of the country. Some still do a fair amount of TV advertising and they’ll appreciate these fresh spots with celebrity punch. You can watch two of the commercials yourself on our YouTube channel here and here

  • Water Emergency? What to do Until Help Arrives | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Water ER? What to do until help arrives!

    Whether it’s a burst pipe or a water heater mishap, few situations are more unnerving than watching a massive amount of water pour into your home. Even a smaller leak is nothing to snort at. The plumbing and water restoration team is on the way… but what do you do until help arrives? Here are some tips from ROTO-ROOTER’s Minneapolis plumbing experts:

    • Safety first. If you don’t feel safe in the house, get out! There could be a danger of slipping and falling, not to mention electrical hazards.
    • Shut off the main water valve immediately. Obviously, it’s good to know ahead of time exactly where the shutoff valve is located.
    • If it’s safe inside, start removing excess water by mopping and blotting the floors. Be sure to wipe water from wood furniture to keep it from getting damaged – and prop up wet upholstery and cushions for drying.
    • Create a barrier between soaked carpet and furniture legs (use a margarine container or lid, aluminum foil, wood blocks, etc.). Make sure there are no books, magazines, rugs or other colored items that can “bleed” on the carpet.
    • Don't use the TV or household appliances and don’t use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. If a room’s ceiling is sagging, don’t go in!
    • Do NOT use your household vacuum to remove water.
    • Get the air circulating. Use ceiling fans (but not if the ceiling is wet) or A/C in the summer to begin the drying process.
    • Put family heirlooms, art and other pricey objects in a safe, dry place.
    • Hang wet fabrics and leather items out to dry.

    Of course, it’s best to research plumbers/water restoration experts ahead of time – that way, you’ll have a phone number on hand before an emergency ever strikes!

    For more Minneapolis plumbing tips, water restoration advice, or instructional videos, visit ROTO-ROOTER Minneapolis and our Google+ page.

  • 5 Simple Sump Pump Tips to Keep your Basement Flood-Free | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Keep Your Basement Flood-Free with 5 Simple Sump Pump Tips

    Here in Chicago, in old houses and in new, we’re no strangers to flooded basements thanks to our high water table. Even if you’ve done the right thing and installed a sump pump, that’s not always enough. In fact, ROTO-ROOTER’s Chicago plumbers replace more sump pumps than our plumbers in any other region of the country. To make sure your sump pump is doing its job and keeping your basement dry, here are five simple tips you can follow for extra peace of mind:

    1. Test your sump pump regularly. How? Pour a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on, remove the water from the pit and shut itself off in a matter of seconds. Ensure that the float and the check valve move freely.
    2. Give it a once over. Clean your sump pit, remove any dirt, sand, gravel and other debris to increase the pump’s efficiency and prolong its life. Ensure that the discharge line opening is free of obstructions so that water can be pumped through the line and out of your basement or crawlspace.
    3. Back it up. If your home experiences a power outage for an extended period, frequent power outages or if your primary sump pump fails, it’s good to have a battery backup. There are a couple of different kinds. One uses a marine-grade battery that can power it for up to 12 hours. Another uses water pressure from your home's water supply lines to force flood water out of your sump pit. Ask your Chicago plumber to explain the different backup options.
    4. Realize that nothing lasts forever. Like any equipment with moving parts, sump pumps will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. There is no general rule on how often a sump pump should be replaced, since it depends on how often the pump operates. Be sure to have it checked periodically.
    5. Research plumbers ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is spend time finding a trustworthy plumber when you’re in the middle of a flooded basement.

    For more plumbing tips, as well as instructional videos, visit ROTO-ROOTER Chicago and our Google+ page.

  • Tankless vs. Conventional Water Heaters | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Tankless vs. Conventional Water Heaters

    Living here in Boston, especially through the bitter cold winters, there’s something to be said for a water heater that spouts out instant hot water on demand! Not only do tankless water heaters offer immediate warmth and comfort, they take up less space and are more efficient—reducing energy costs by about 25% annually. But before you rush out to buy one, learn the facts about both tankless and conventional water heaters from ROTO-ROOTER’s Boston plumbers, and decide which one is right for you:

    Tankless Water Heater

    • Also known as an “on-demand” or “instant” hot water heater, it provides hot water only as it is needed. Instead of storing water in a tank, it uses heat exchangers that turn on only when you use the faucet, quickly heating up water as needed.
    • If it’s the proper size, it delivers a continuous supply of water at a set temperature.
    • Hangs on exterior or interior wall and takes up less space
    • Cost: $700-$1500
    • Installation and piping can be costly
    • Gas-powered models will need good, costly venting
    • Retrofitting homes with traditional units can be expensive and complex
    • If the heater is far away, there could be a delay before the water reaches the tap.
    • Life expectancy of 20+ years

    Conventional Water Heater

    • Stores and heats cold water supply in large tank
    • When tank begins to cool, the burner kicks on and heats up the water again.
    • Water can be set to desired temperature using a thermostat
    • Some models are equipped with heat pumps and thicker walls, making them almost as efficient as tankless units.
    • Straightforward system that works well
    • Cost: $300 or less
    • Installation can be simple
    • Consumes energy whether water is needed or not
    • Large, takes up more space than tankless models
    • Life expectancy of 11-15 years

    For more Boston plumbing tips, as well as instructional videos, visit ROTO-ROOTER Boston and our Google+ page.

  • 4 Tips to Keep New Appliances Leak-Free | Roto-Rooter Blog

    New Appliances? Keep Them Leak-Free with 4 Easy Tips

    Whether it’s a shiny, stainless steel dishwasher, efficient new water heater, or that awesome washer/dryer set you so desperately needed, you likely shelled out a pretty penny for those new appliances. But all that glitters isn’t gold! While the appliances themselves may feature state-of-the-art, reliable technology, our Atlanta plumbers see lots of water damage caused by the cheap water supply lines and valves that often come with them. Here are some ways to deal with those issues, as well as a few other tips for keeping your appliances leak free for years to come:

    1. Upgrade your hoses. Head to your local home improvement store and buy braided stainless steel water supply hoses for your washing machine, your dishwasher and your refrigerator’s water supply line. They cost more but they’re well worth it, since steel hoses are less likely to spring a leak and flood your home.
    2. Swap out the cheap drain valve on the bottom of your new water heater before you hook it up. Take the valve to the hardware store and buy a high-quality brass drain valve of the same size and type. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape then thread the valve onto the water heater tank. Cheap plastic valves often break apart or go bad within just a few years.
    3. New washing machine for your upstairs laundry room? If so, be sure to place it in a drain pan. That way, if it overflows for any reason, instead of water flooding the second floor, it would go down the sides of the machine into the drain pan, which is attached to a pipe that drains the water away.
    4. Check your home’s water pressure! Sometimes, the hidden killer of appliances like water softeners is pressure that’s too high. Water pressure in your home above 60 pounds per square inch is harmful to your entire plumbing system and will cause excessive water usage and even burst pipes. Contact your local water authority to find out what the water pressure is on your street. If it exceeds 60 pounds, consider installing a pressure reducing valve (PRV), which costs about $80, to limit the water pressure within your home.

    An appliance flood could easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. But all of the tips above are easy fixes that cost a small amount of money. For more Atlanta plumbing tips, as well as instructional videos, visit ROTO-ROOTER Atlanta and our Google+ page.

  • Water Restoration Services are a Natural Fit for Roto-Rooter | Roto-Rooter

     After 79 years of providing sewer and drain services and 34 years as a full-service plumbing repair provider, we at Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service can confidently say we do these things better than anyone else. So it was not without a great deal of thought that Roto-Rooter expanded its service menu to include water restoration services. The fact is that taking care of water damage is not a big stretch beyond our core competencies. Every day in the course of our normal work, we see the damage caused by water and sewage backups.

    The way it used to go, homeowners and business managers would call in Roto-Rooter to fixRoto-Rooter at the door whatever plumbing problem caused the flood in the first place. Our expert plumbers and sewer and drain technicians responded quickly to resolve the issue. Then, they would refer the owner to a water restoration company to pump out the water and mitigate the structural damage left behind. Very often, the homeowner would say, “can’t you guys just take care of it?” The fact is that we had some of the pumping equipment necessary to do it ourselves but we weren’t fully invested in water restoration. That changed a couple of years ago when we set up a couple of our branches to do water restoration work and serve as prototypes.

    The experiment proved to be a complete success so last year we began a major investment in top-line, stat-of-the-art water restoration equipment and, at the same time, we rolled out a recruitment program to attract some of the most experienced water restoration experts to bring a first class water restoration brain trust to Roto-Rooter. They helped us establish a dedicated first class training program that is fully certified by IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Now our customers don’t have to worry about calling anyone else in the event of a water emergency. All it takes is one call to Roto-Rooter and home and business owners can rest assured that their water problems will be handled as quickly and efficiently, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as their sewer and drain problems have been since 1935.

    To show our customers the full range of water damage mitigation services provided by Roto-Rooter, we produced this water restoration video. We hope you’ll find this information helpful.

  • Prevent Flooding, Improve Reliability by Making Your Appliances Better Than New

    New appliances can cost lots of money. Speaking as a homeowner who recently bought a new washing machine and dryer and one who will probably have to buy a new dishwasher before the end of the year, I can tell you this from personal experience. But speaking as a representative of the world’s largest plumbing repair service, I can also tell you that you should make a few improvements on new appliances before you hook them up in your home. Our plumbers see lots of water damage and much of it is caused by cheap, unreliable water supply lines and valves.

    Water hoses on appliances are leading cause of floodingMost of today’s appliances are super reliable and technologically sophisticated. As a result, most folks can’t handle their own appliance repairs by themselves. But there are some things that the average person can do and should do at the time of installation. I can sum it all up in four words: braided stainless steel hoses. You can buy braided stainless steel water supply hoses for your washing machine, your dishwasher and your refrigerator’s water supply line. Yes, they definitely cost a little more than the plastic or rubber lines and hoses that come with your appliance but they are worth every penny. Steel hoses will outlast plastic and rubber by many years and they’re far less likely to spring a leak and flood your home. An appliance flood could easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs to your home. The hoses will only cost you a few extra bucks.

    There is no substitute for reliability and if you want long-term peace of mind, disconnect the cheap water lines that the manufacturer included with the appliance and go immediately to your local home or hardware store and buy braided steel hoses of the same length with the same connection ends. Be sure they’re actually steel hoses because I’ve seen braided plastic lines that look like steel but aren’t as good aren’t as reliable.

    If you have to replace your water heater, unscrew the plastic drain valve at the bottom before you hook up the water heater. Take the drain valve to the hardware store and buy a high-quality brass drain valve of the same size and type. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape then thread the valve onto the water heater tank. I can’t tell you how many times those cheap plastic valves break apart or go bad within a few short years.

  • Clean Drinking Water Wake-Up Call – Are We Paying Attention?

    As North America’s largest plumbing repair company, we take seriously the old line that “plumbers protect the health of the nation.” So here’s our lecture about protecting clean water. Two incidents this year have reminded us how easily we can lose access to clean drinking water. Toledo, Ohio residents watched helplessly in early August as a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie made their normally reliable supply of potable water rendered unusable and unsafe. Without warning,
    some 40,000 residents were suddenly urged not to drink it, cook with it or even bathe in it for several days. Back in January, 300,000 people in and around of Charleston, West Virginia lost their water supply for the better part of a week after a chemical spill in the Elk River rendered their drinking water unsafe for any kind of use.

    Water Warning SignIt is time to get serious about protecting our water supply from contamination of all types. Fresh, drinkable water is in short supply. Even though two thirds of the planet is covered in water, less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. And it seems we humans are gambling with that 1% instead of taking the necessary steps to protect it at all costs. We have to get serious about restricting chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers that run off of farm fields into watersheds and finally into the reservoirs and rivers that are the sources of most of our water treatment plants. Additionally, it’s time again to invest in American infrastructure. We must upgrade our water treatment plants to a more sophisticated level so they can filter out even the most serious contaminants and keep the taps flowing. This isn’t over-the-top crazy talk by tree hugging environmentalists. This is deadly serious and it’s going to get worse if we don’t all stand up for what is left of the nation’s clean water supply.

    What can you do? For one thing, you can get serious about conserving water. The best way to do this is by fixing plumbing leaks and drips around your home or business. Next, use less. Replace old toilets and shower heads with modern units that require a lot less water. You won’t notice the difference except for a less costly water bill. Currently, we’re losing as much as 10,000 gallons per year per household to leaks. That’s more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost each year across the country! That is an astounding figure but it is true and the only way to reverse the trend is for every American to take responsibility for fixing leaks in his or her home and business. If you’re ready to get serious, check out our ROTOGreen page for guidance.

  • How to Turn Off the Main Water Shut-Off Valve

    Main Water Shut Off ValveWould you know how to turn off the water to your house in the event of an emergency? Many people don’t have a clue. Trust me, waiting until a plumbing catastrophe strikes is not the time to figure it out. At some point every homeowner (or house renter) will find themselves in a situation that requires turning off the main water supply valve to the house. It could be a broken water pipe or a toilet or sink may malfunction sending water cascading across your floors. Sinks and toilets have their own shutoff valves but if the shutoff valves are stuck or they fail, you’ll have to fall back to the main water shutoff valve and turn off the water before serious damage occurs.

    The first step is shutting off the main water valve is to locate it. In colder climates, you can usually find the main water shut-off valve in the basement or inside a closet in a front room of the house. Sometimes, builders will hide it behind a removable panel. In southern states, the main water shut-off valve is often located outside the house, usually along the front outside wall and often near an outside hose bib (faucet).  In the small Texas town where I grew up, the main water shut-off valves were inside the meter box near the curb. If that’s the case where you live, make sure you have a meter box key so you can get into the meter vault if you have to. Some shut-off valves inside meter vaults even require a special “key” or wrench to turn them off but most can be turned off with a crescent wrench.  Fortunately, most shut-off valves inside the house just require a firm grip of the hand to turn off. Remember, turn the valve to the right to turn it off.

    Have a plan! Not only should YOU know how to turn off the main water shutoff valve, you should make sure that every member of the family knows where the shutoff valve is located and how to use it. This includes young children who may be home alone someday when catastrophe strikes. Additionally, it’s a good idea to put the plumber’s name and phone number near the shut-off valve. Tape his business card to the wall or place a tag on the valve. You may need to reach a plumber quickly if plumbing repairs are required. There are many scenarios where this could prove helpful. For instance, let’s say you’ve gone on vacation and your in-laws are house sitting when the water heater rusts out and starts flooding the floor. You’ll want that water turned off ASAP.  To help you learn how to locate and turn off your water supply valve, Roto-Rooter created a helpful video that you should watch then share with family and friends. You can thank us later.

  • 3 Tips for Home Buyers Considering a Previously Owned Home

    If your family is house shopping this summer, you already know the anxiety associated with buying a home. You’ll wonder what mysteries lurk behind the walls and whether you’ll inherit a bunch of new problems that the current owner might be hiding. Water heaters and sewer lines can prove costly. As plumbers, we hear from lots of customers who experience plumbing problems within the first year at a new (older) home. So here are some tips for you to remember before you buy.

    Home buyers should beware of plumbing problems1.       Buyers do not have to disclose information about plumbing problems so ask questions! Ask when the home was built. If it is more than 12 years old and still has the original water heater, expect to replace the unit within the next year or two. If the house is 25 years old or older, it may not have plastic/PVC sewer pipes. And that’s not good. When it comes to reliable sewers, plastic is good, clay, iron and concrete are bad because these materials do not wear well underground as well as plastic does. Root intrusion is common in every type of sewer line except for PVC. Ask the owner if they’ve ever had trouble with the sewer clogging.

    2.       A sewer line inspection is not included in a standard home inspection. It’s true because sewer inspection video camera snakes are expensive. Good ones can cost more than $5000 each so most home inspectors don’t make the investment. Sewer repairs are expensive and sewer replacement costs can easily exceed ten thousand dollars. When you think about it that way, paying a company like Roto-Rooter to video inspect the sewer line is a good investment. You can expect to pay between $200 and $550 for a complete sewer line camera inspection and that will include a DVD or thumb drive copy for your records.

    3.       If it happened once, it will happen again. While you’re asking questions, ask if the basement has ever flooded. Ask why it flooded. Find out if the basement or crawl space is equipped with a sump pump. Then ask the owner when it was last replaced. Rest assured, if the homeowner confesses that the basement flooded once many years ago during some super storm but it has never happened since, Murphy’s Law dictates that it will probably flood again during your first year in the house – if the previous owners did nothing to mitigate the cause of the first flood. Personally, I would never buy a basement home that doesn’t have a sump system and a backflow preventer in the sewer. These plumbing fixtures are a must and if you have them, you’ll never know how many catastrophes they prevented over the years. But if you don’t have them, you’ll find out the hard way how difficult and expensive homeownership can be.

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