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.
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.
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:
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.
There are a few common reasons your washing machine may be overflowing. Here are some things you can check:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Greystar Partners with Roto-Rooter
By Jack Kortekamp
When Greystar Real Estate Partners purchased Riverstone Residential Group last June, the nation’s top apartment manager acquired the second largest apartment manager. Recently, Greystar announced their supplier partnerships and Roto-Rooter Services Company made the list. Currently, Greystar manages almost 400,000 apartment units in the U.S. and has recently expanded internationally. With a combined force of over 10,000 team members, Greystar currently manages apartment communities for many of the premier ownership groups and institutions in the multifamily industry.
Jack Kortekamp and Keith Vadas from Roto-Rooter’s Commercial Business Development Group had relationships and business dealing with both companies previous to the merger. After meeting with the combined management of both companies shortly after the purchase was announced, Roto-Rooter’s proposal for a partnership was accepted for the new Preferred National Partner Program. Roto-Rooter Services Company currently provides drain cleaning, plumbing, water line repair and replacement, excavation, backflow testing and high-pressure water jetting services to Greystar’s managed properties and Roto-Rooter recently presented our newest service, Water Restoration to Greystar management.
Roto-Rooter sponsors Greystar’s Green Awards Program, a web-based program that rewards Greystar properties that conserve energy, water and promote sustainability.
Greystar is a fully integrated real estate company offering expertise in property management, investment management and development of residential properties. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Greystar is the largest operator of apartments in the United States, managing over 385,000 units in over 100 markets. Greystar also has $ 1.5 billion of development underway and has a robust institutional investment platform with over 7.5 billion is assets in major markets globally.
Roto-Rooter Services Company currently provides plumbing services to Greystar properties in most of their major markets and we look forward to growing with Greystar as they continue to lead the multifamily industry.
How and Why Tree Roots Clog and Damage so Many Sewers
By Paul Abrams
The Roto-Rooter sewer cleaning machine got its name because it rotates a spinning cable with sharp blades on the tip through underground sewer pipes cutting away tree roots that can clog a sewer and cause sewage backups. Tree roots might seem like fragile little stems but they can grow to monstrous proportions and are incredibly resilient and strong! Roots can cause lots of damage to underground pipes but it takes a long time for the damage to show itself.
Thirsty trees and shrubs send tiny feeder roots out through the soil in search of water and nutrients. When the roots find water, they begin sipping it and pumping it back to the tree. One of the easiest places for roots to find water is an old sewer pipeline made of clay, concrete, iron, Orangeburg or other imperfect materials. When the sewer pipes were laid, their sections were joined together tightly to prevent roots from getting inside. Each section of pipe has a male end and a female end. Clay and concrete were usually “pitched” together using tar pitch or a similar material that helped seal the joints. The problem is that the seals don’t last forever and as the seals fail over time, those little feeder roots work their way inside to infiltrate the sewer pipe and discover the moisture and nutrients they were sent to find. Mission accomplished!
Tree Roots Grow Larger – Causing Pipe Problems
In time, those little roots grow fat and happy. They soon become the tree’s most important lifeline to a seemingly endless supply of water and waste nutrients (think fertilizer). As a result, the roots grow larger so they can deliver more and more water to the growing, healthy tree. As roots grow larger in diameter, they put a strain on the pipe joints and gradually break the clay, concrete or other materials away. To visualize how they do this, think of how many times you’ve seen a tree root push up a section of sidewalk. It’s a slow but steady pressure that gradually defeats the concrete and shoves it aside. The same thing happens to your sewer pipe. As the holes in the pipe get bigger, more water and sewage leaches out of the pipe into the surrounding soil. The soil supporting the pipe begins to erode and the pipe sections start to move around in the watery loose dirt. Pretty soon, the once reliable pipeline starts looking like a loose collection of pipe sections that are only semi-connected as more and more roots infiltrate the pipe and compound the damage. To make matters worse, the roots spread out like nets and catch toilet paper and waste until a clog forms.
Roto-Rooter’s State-of-the-art Equipment & Technology Can Help with Sewer Problems
A Roto-Rooter plumber can easily cut away young tree roots and restore flow in your sewer. Mature roots become more of a challenge but we can usually cut through those too – up to a point. Once the root mass starts looking like a tree limb, even the mighty Roto-Rooter machine can’t always cut through. And by that time, chances are good that the pipe sections are so damaged and misaligned that the sewer has just about had it anyway. Toilets stop flushing and drains stop draining and sewage has nowhere to go but into a bathtub or sink. Remember, sewers are designed to be a sealed system. If they are leaching sewage into the soil, it’s an environmental issue. Annual sewer cleanings can keep a sewer line open for years if a homeowner keeps up with root growth but eventually, the sewer will reach the end of its life and it has to be replaced.
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