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  • 3 Signs You Should Call a Professional Plumber | Roto-Rooter

    While DIY plumbing can be helpful, there are some instances when you should recognize your limits and call a professional plumber right away. Here are three.

    Many homeowners are proud of their DIY abilities. From painting and doing yard work to taking care of some minor plumbing issues, it's a great idea to see what you can fix or take care of on your own before calling in a pro. There are some instances where it's necessary to contact a plumber right away. It's helpful to know how to identify these instances so you can give Roto-Rooter a call. Here are three:

    1. If you spot a major leak

    When you come home from dinner one night and find that your toilet is overflowing it's best to call a plumber immediately. Likely your toilet's inner working are in need of some maintenance or much bigger problems are at play with your sewer system. And if it’s been overflowing long at all, Roto-Rooter has the necessary plumbing experts and water damage experts to fix the problem and mitigate the water damage, dry the affected area and prevent any chance of mold problems that could potentially cause you major trouble in the hours and days ahead.

    1. If you smell something foul

    Clogged drains and hidden leaks can cause some unpleasant odors to drift throughout your home. They may also lead to mold, which can add another bad odor and respiratory dangers. If you smell something that may be water-related, contact Roto-Rooter. We'll check all your drains and other plumbing implements to check for clogs and potentially identify leaks or problems that are causing mold or damage.

    1. If your pipes freeze

    During the wintertime the weather can grow so cold it actually freezes the water supply pipes in your home. This unfortunate incident can cause serious damage to your home. The pipes can crack and even burst, causing major water damage to your home and belongings. And as we say in the business, “it’s not so much the freeze that causes the biggest problems, it’s the thaw.” It's not a good idea to try to fix this issue yourself since often the pipes run behind walls and beneath floors. A professional Roto-Rooter plumber has specialized equipment to track down the breaks with minimal access holes in your walls. Going at it alone could result in massive damage to walls and floors as you hunt for the leaks. If you find your pipes are frozen, call a plumber right away and they will assess the damage and get your plumbing back to proper working order without causing unnecessary water and property damage.

  • Have a Clogged Drain? 3 Tips to Unclog Your Drain Today

    A lot of stuff makes its way down the drains in your home. Bits of food in the kitchen sink and hairs in the bathroom, all combine with soap and can clog your drains. The good news is there are easy ways to fix this problem. Here are a few tips:

    1. Try boiling water

    Commercial products for bathroom clogs often have harsh smells. If you'd rather go the natural route when unclogging a drain, break out your teapot. Boil a full kettle of water and slowly pour it down the problem drain. The heat will break up any residue that is causing the clog, allowing you to get back to business as usual.

    2. Use a wet vacuum

    If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you have a great tool for unclogging drains. Simply turn it to the wet setting and cover the drain. Wearing a rubber glove, you can use your hand to make a good seal by creating an "O" shape over the drain and placing the vacuum wand on the other end. Try not to let any air escape. This will suck up whatever is causing the clog and you'll be using the sink again in no time.

    3. Break out the plunger

    No, not the toilet plunger. These devices have different shapes for various plumbing needs. Sink plungers have a flat head, whereas ones for the toilet have a smaller opening and a more mushroom-like shape. Simply place the plunger over the sink and push down on the handle until the clog has been forced out. Sometimes the mess comes up with the plunger and on other occasions it goes down the pipe and dissolves. Either way, you'll be able to clean up the area and use it normally.

  • Tips on How to Retrieve a Valuable Item Down the Sink

    Tips For Removing a Valuable or Personal Item From Your Drain

    We've all had that "Oh no!" moment after dropping something down the drain. Earrings, contact lenses and even toothbrushes sometimes manage to make their way into the pipes. When this happens, what do you do? Here are some tips:

    Try a coat hanger

    It seems silly, but if you are able to remove the drain catch, try and feel around in the pipe with a bent coat hanger. For smaller items, this may not work, but you can remove toothbrushes and other larger things with this method.

    Take the sink apart

    Anyone can take their sink apart to find a lost ring or earring. The first thing to do is turn off the water. Then, put something under the sink plug (what keeps gunk from going into the pipes) so it doesn't close. Place a bucket under your sink plumbing (usually under the sink cabinet) so water will fall into it. Unscrew the J​-pipe from the end near the sink and the side closest to the wall. Dump the water (and hopefully your lost item) into your bucket. 

    If you don't see your item, it may be stuck in the P-trap (J-shaped pipe). This means you'll have to reach into the drain from the top. The best device for the job? A magnetic retrieval tool (if what you are trying to retrieve is not silver or gold) or a pronged retrieval tool. These tiny lifesavers look like the antennae on your radio and often telescope so they can be made longer or shorter as necessary. You can purchase one at a hardware or plumbing store. Just slip it into your drain and use a flashlight to spot the item and grip it with the magnet or tongs. Pull the item out and give it a good scrub.

    Call a plumber

    If the above methods don't work, call Roto-Rooter. Don't use the sink, or your item may be swept away into your water system. Instead, keep the water off and let a professional do the job.

  • Pet Owners: 4 Plumbing Tips To Keep Drains & Pipes Clean

    If you have a furry friend or two, you may have experienced the unique plumbing issues that come with them. All that hair can clog drains during bath time, and you've probably found Fido sipping from the toilet at some point. Here are some plumbing-related tips that are helpful to know as a pet owner:

    Use a drain strainer

    When your dog or cat needs a bath, it's a good idea to use a drain strainer to keep their hair from causing a clog. Even if you don't think they're shedding at the time that they hop in the tub, you may be surprised just how much fur comes off once you start scrubbing.

    Be careful what you flush

    "A 'flushable​' label doesn't mean a product's good for your toilet."

    Some cat litters may say "flushable" on the label, but it's best to scoop used litter into a bag and toss it into the trash. Cats sometimes eat things they cannot fully digest, like bones. These items will likely cause issues with your plumbing system. Avoid this entirely by not flushing your cat's litter.

    Replace pets' water often

    If your pup or kitty is turning to the toilet for water to drink, you may need to refresh their water dish. ASPCA recommends washing your pets' water bowls and refilling them twice a day. It's important to keep an eye on their water levels, especially when it's hot out, as you may need to give them more water during higher temperatures.

    Hide exposed pipes and drains

    Animals love to chew, and an exposed pipe or drain may seem like the perfect toy. Prevent unnecessary pet-related plumbing emergencies by moving furniture or other items so your canine and feline friends cannot access pipes or open drains. You can also purchase drain covers that make it difficult to get to them. Roto-Rooter has seen many instances of puppies and kittens finding their way into open drains then requiring pet rescues (click this link for Roto-Rooter pet rescue videos) from deep inside a pipeline.

  • How to Repair Your Washing Machine When it Over Flows

    When your washing machine stops working correctly, it can put a serious crimp in your laundry routine.

    Doing laundry isn't exactly a fun activity (well, not for most people, anyway), but it's a necessary household chore. That's why, when your washing machine stops working correctly, it can put a serious crimp in your laundry routine. Most of us depend on our washers and dryers to do the heavy lifting for us - it's not really feasible to wash everything by hand. So, if your washer is over flowing, here's what you can do to fix it:

    1. Turn off the electricity

    Remember that any time water starts flooding in your home - especially when it involves something electrical - it can be very dangerous for you, not to mention any kids or pets that could be running around. The first thing you should do is turn off the electricity that runs to your washing machine directly from the fuse box. It's not a good idea to touch or unplug the machine's power cord when there's water everywhere.

    1. Troubleshoot

    There are a few common reasons your washing machine may be overflowing. Here are some things you can check:

    • Pressure switch: The pressure switch is what's responsible for sensing when the machine is full enough, and it can become clogged, which makes it stop working. Remove the electrical panel to see if your pressure switch needs to be cleaned or repaired.
    • A kinked drain hose: If the flexible hose behind your washing machine is folded, it could cause water to back up. Keep your washing machine about 4 to 6 inches away from your wall to keep this from happening.
    • A clog: Clogs in the drain pipe or pressure tube may be the culprit - a drain snake can fix the problem.
    1. Fix the issue

    Many washer overflow issues are easily fixed, but if you aren't sure what the problem is or how to repair it, don't worry. Give Roto-Rooter a call and we'll send a plumbing professional your way.

  • Tips on How to Clean Your Dishwasher | Roto-Rooter

    How to Clean your Dishwasher to Look Brand New Again

    By Paul Abrams

    A dishwasher's very existence is to clean your dirty dishes, so it's probably not the first (or second) place that you'd think of when it comes time to clean your kitchen. It is necessary to give this appliance some scrubbing from time to time. Here are a few ways to do so:


    You'd think that a dishwasher would naturally clean itself as it takes the food particles off your plates and bowls. In reality, it can use a good soak in something other than soap. This is where vinegar comes in. Dishwashers have a filter that keeps food particles from getting into the system. Remove this and soak it in white vinegar for 10 minutes. Then, put the filter back and add a cup of vinegar to the bottom of the appliance. Turn on the heavy cleaning cycle and let the acidic bubbles do their job. You'll be happy to find that funky smell is gone when you open the door after the wash cycle is complete.

    Take it apart

    There are small parts of your dishwasher that need to be cleaned by hand. To start, remove the racks by gently pulling them off their tracks. This gives you easy access to the bottom part where the spinning mechanism helps disperse water throughout the device. Use a toothpick to gently pick out any detritus that you can spot in the holes where the water comes out. Next, take a look at the drain. This part is complex and therefore can get food bits stuck in it. Use a toothbrush or your fingers to remove any particles or debris that you spot. You can even scrub it with a toothbrush, a little water and some baking soda. Also give the utensil holder a good hand washing. Now, put the racks back in and enjoy your freshly scoured dishwasher.

    Is it time to replace?

    If your dishwasher is past its prime and you’re ready to have a new dishwasher installed, watch this video. Otherwise, remember that one of Roto-Rooter’s professional plumbers can install or repair a dishwasher for you so you’ll have the confidence that it was done right and will serve you well for years to come.

  • Fix a Leaking Faucet: 3 Common Faucet Issues & Repairs

    3 Common Causes of Leaking Faucets

    If you're a homeowner, you know there's nothing quite as annoying as the "drip ... drip ... drip" of a leaky bathroom or kitchen faucet. But did you know most dripping faucet issues are actually pretty easy to fix yourself? Depending on the type of faucet you have (there are four: compression, cartridge, ball and ceramic disk), here are three things to look for as soon as your fixture starts to leak:

    1. The washer

    If your faucet has two separate handles that loosen and tighten to turn on the hot and cold water, your faucet has a compression valve. Compression faucets are the only type that uses washers, but these washers are actually one of the most common causes of leaking - they can corrode, become damaged or even just not be installed properly. If you have a compression faucet, try replacing the washers in each handle first - this may fix the problem.

    1. The O-ring

    In many faucets, including cartridge and compression models, O-rings are installed within the handles to create a waterproof seal. When the O-rings become damaged or loose, that seal can break, causing a leak near the handle. If you have a leaking handle, try replacing the O-ring first - just make sure you buy the right size or the new part will be just as non-functional as the old one.

    1. The cartridge

    Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles, so they're most easily distinguishable by how they feel to operate - turning the handle or handles is a bit smoother and easier than a compression or ball faucet. When cartridge faucets are leaking, it's often necessary to replace the entire cartridge valve within them. New cartridges cost about $10-15, depending on where you live, and they are relatively easy to install.

    Remember that if you don't feel comfortable fixing a leaky faucet yourself, it's always a good idea to call a local plumber for help!

  • Five Easy Ways to Cut Water Usage by 25% | Roto-Rooter

    Five Easy Ways for Californians to Cut Water Usage

    By Paul Abrams

    California recently put into effect statewide mandatory conservation steps that established a goal of cutting water usage by 25%. That may sound difficult, and for households already in water conservation mode, it might be. However, for a typical residential home, there are many ways to cut water usage that make a big difference but which are barely noticeable to the residents themselves. Roto-Rooter’s ROTOGreen program makes it easy for homeowners to cut water usage. And for the DIY crowd, many of these steps can be fully implemented without the aid of a plumber. Here are five simple areas where you can cut water usage.

    • Take showers instead of baths. The average shower uses one-third as much water as a bath. Limit showers to 6 minutes or less and replace your old showerhead with a low flow model. We’re partial to the Niagara water saving showerhead. It uses only 1.5 gallons of water per minute – a savings of 1 to 4 GPM over conventional showerheads. The best part? This showerhead is so well engineered, you won’t believe you’re using a low-flow showerhead at all.

    • Don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. Replace your old faucet 3.5 gallons per minute faucet with an efficient news one that only spews out 1.5 GPM. We know that fancy new faucets are expensive so if you like your old faucet, you can replace the aerator on it that will restrict flow to 1.5 GPM or even all the way down to 0.5 GPM.

    • The newest ultra-efficient toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush. Toilets made after 1993 use only 1.6 GPF but toilets older than that waste at least 3.5 gallons with every flush. You can spend a lot of money replacing old toilets or you can remove the guts of your toilet tank and replace them with a new dual-flush converter that will cut your water usage down to 0.8 GPF for liquid waste and 1.6 GPF for solid waste. Home Depot and Lowes carry these converter kits and they have easy to follow instructions. Still too complicated and expensive? Find a brick and gently place it inside your toilet tank. The brick will displace up to a half gallon of water and so you’ll get the same flush power but use less water.

    • Laundry – If you have an old style top loading washing machine, only wash full loads. And if your laundry load is small, be sure to adjust the setting on the machine so that it doesn’t fill the machine with enough water to wash a full load. If you have a new style front load water efficient machine, it should weigh the load and use only the water it needs to get it clean but make sure your settings are optimal.

    • Finally, the single biggest source of water waste is leaks. Almost every home has at least one water leak someplace. Fix those leaks and you’ll see an immediate cut in household water usage. You can see faucet drips but toilet leaks can be stealthy and hard to detect. If you notice a ripple of water in the bowl, that’s a water leak. Most toilet leaks can be fixed by replacing the toilet’s flapper valve. Watch this video for step-by-step instructions for changing a flapper valve.

  • Roto-Rooter Helps Texas Homeowners affected by Water Damage

    Texas’ feast or famine rainfall is back in the feast mode and Roto-Rooter is helping Homeowners Deal with Water Damage

    By Paul Abrams

    The rain just won’t stop falling on Texas. Homes and businesses are sustaining damage from flooding throughout most of the state. However, deep in the heart of Texas around Austin, San Antonio and Houston, they seem to be getting the worst of it. When water rises and washes through structures, it leaves behind mud and debris plus soaked flooring, drywall and furniture. It’s a real nightmare! Water restoration companies are busy cleaning up the damage, working with insurance companies and trying to get homeowners back to normal. Many of them keep homeowners on long waiting lists. That means it could be days or weeks before homes and businesses get the help they so desperately need.

    But we’ll let you in on a little secret, the local Roto-Rooter offices in Houston, San Antonio and Austin are fully certified water restoration experts! The fact is, that we mostly provide water restoration services to our plumbing customers who’ve experienced water line breaks or sewage backups but Roto-Rooter is fully capable of taking care of storm water damage too. The secret part is that most people don’t know Roto-Rooter offers these services so our wait times may be non-existent or at least much shorter than the best known water restoration companies. That means Roto-Rooter can get to the damage right away, remove water from the property, strip out soaked and damaged carpeting, drywall and furniture and begin drying out the structure before mold and mildew set in.

    Roto-Rooter uses all the same water extraction and drying equipment as the biggest restoration companies. In fact, we use the very latest state-of-the-art water restoration gear and our crews all hold IICRC certifications (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Roto-Rooter works directly with your insurance carrier and we’re available 24/7. One other thing that most homeowners don’t realize is that there’s no need to shop around for lower cost rates when it comes to water restoration services. Why? Every water restoration company works within insurance company claims parameters. That means the insurance companies set the rates they will pay for various types of damage and the water restoration companies are bound by those rates – so the cost is the same no matter which company does the work. Learn more about Roto-Rooter Water Restoration Services and share the secret with your friends and neighbors.

  • Annual Roto-Rooter Franchise Meeting Held - May 11, 2015

    Roto-Rooter Franchise Association Holds Annual Meeting

    By Paul Abrams


    The RRFA or Roto-Rooter Franchise Association is a supportive forum for Roto-Rooter franchisees to gather, teach, mentor and share new ideas with each other. The organization promotes relationships within the Roto-Rooter family that foster growth and understanding between the franchise owners themselves and their relationship to Roto-Rooter Corporation and Roto-Rooter Services Company.

    There are more than 500 independently owned and operated Roto-Rooter franchises across North America and several others overseas. Many of the franchises have been in the same families since the 1930s when Roto-Rooter was founded on the invention of the original mechanical sewer cleaning machine. At one time, all of the Roto-Rooter system consisted of franchises but today about 117 Roto-Rooter locations are company owned and operated. Together, both groups make up the largest plumbing repair and sewer and drain cleaning business in the world. Company owned locations have learned a lot from the franchise community over the years and vice-versa. We work together to strengthen the Roto-Rooter brand, provide better service to our customers and explore new ways of achieving success for all.

    During the week of May 11, the RRFA will hold its annual meeting. The location changes every year and this year it will be held in Las Vegas. There will be a series of meetings and workshops that never fail to improve the Roto-Rooter business as a whole. While the public is well aware of the Roto-Rooter brand, they don’t often understand that it is held aloft by individuals who are always leaning forward to find ways to improve our service offerings, customer service and commitment to employees. One of the greatest challenges Roto-Rooter and our industry faces is plumber recruitment & careers. There simply are not enough plumbers to meet demand for plumbing services anymore. As a group, the RRFA and Roto-Rooter Services Company will share ideas for promoting the plumbing profession and making Roto-Rooter an even better place to work so as to recruit more plumbers to our company.

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