Roto-Rooter Blog RSS Feed

Roto-Rooter Blog

  • How to Prevent Drain Clogs on Thanksgiving in 2015

    Never pour grease down the drain

    By now you may have heard that Thanksgiving is responsible for more sewer and drain clogs than any other day of the year. The day after Thanksgiving is far and away the busiest day of the year for Roto-Rooter, presumably because most homeowners want to avoid holiday plumber fees so they suffer through until Friday. But if you follow these Thanksgiving tips you can remain clog-free and spend your Black Friday shopping at the mall instead of waiting at home for the plumber.

    Remember that just about every traditional Thanksgiving dish is a potential clog culprit. “Turkey drippings” is a nice way of saying turkey grease. When it’s hot and oily it seems as harmless as water but when you pour it down the sink, it congeals on the pipe walls like candle wax and can choke your drain. Potato peelings and rice seem harmless enough but when they go down the drain and get wet, they turn into a big starchy blob. The same can be said for that delicious stuffing. When you stuff it down the disposal, the bready mixture converts to starch and grease and clogs up the works.

    Toss all of the food items listed above into the trash can and only use your disposal for whatever is left on the plates, pots and pans after you’ve scraped them off into the garbage can. If you do that, you will like skate through Thanksgiving weekend unscathed by drain problems. Simple as that? Well, almost!

    There is another side of the coin and it’s called house guests. If you’ve noticed more than one slow drain in your house, it may be a sign that your sewer is partially clogged, probably from tree root intrusion. Once the holiday visitors arrive, they will be flushing toilets, taking showers and maybe even doing some extra laundry loads. All of these extra activities may be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and causes a big, nasty sewer backup just in time to ruin your holiday. If you think your sewer may be partially clogged, why not have the Roto-Rooter man snake out your sewer now and avoid a catastrophe on Thanksgiving?

  • Halloween Pumpkin Carving Causes Garbage Disposals Clogs

    Few things wreak havoc in drainpipes and garbage disposals like pumpkin guts. The slimy, stringy and sticky pulp that Americans scrape out of pumpkins every October to make Halloween jack-o-lanterns might just be the perfect material for clogging drains. For some reason, many first time pumpkin carvers are prone to carving pumpkins in their kitchen sinks so they can push the slimy guts right down the garbage disposal with minimal mess. Sounds good but it is a very bad idea! And few people make that same mistake twice.

    What will it do to your plumbing?

    First, pumpkin guts will choke a garbage disposal. And any pulp and seeds that get past the disposal will stick to the inside walls of the drainpipes. When the water stops running, the pulp dries and hardens like concrete. That’s right. Kitchen sinks and pumpkins are not a good match. Watch our funny Halloween video to see what we mean. Don’t even think about liquid drain cleaner. In most cases, it is powerless against pumpkin guts. No sir, your household over-the-counter defenses are useless. You’re going to need a professional drain cleaner to power through a pumpkin pulp clog. Even a plumber with all his heavy duty drain cleaning equipment may face a formidable battle to open a drain clogged with pumpkin guts. Oh, and your disposal may never be the same or it may have to be replaced.

    How sticky is it?

    In case you haven’t gotten the point, pumpkin pulp is so sticky that we wonder if it isn’t the secret ingredient in super glue. If they could have grown pumpkins on Gilligan’s Island, the professor could have used pumpkin pulp to patch up the SS Minnow and the skipper would have been sailing her back into Honolulu Harbor before the end of the first season. Pumpkin pulp is so sticky, you could probably use it to patch a fiberglass fender on a Corvette. Yes, it’s that sticky and it hardens that much. Do not let it near your drains, including the toilet. Ever!

  • Four Common Plumbing Problems for Seattle Homeowners

    Now that the kids are back in school and you're getting into the swing of things again, the last thing you want to worry about is a plumbing problem, especially with the cold Seattle winters right around the corner. Here are a few problems that are very common and easily correctable. If you can't do it yourself, don't hesitate to call your professional plumber before a minor problem turns into a major one.

    1. Low water pressure

    When you and your children go through your morning routines, a lack of water pressure can be both annoying and uncomfortable, especially since hot showers feel great in the cold weather. While it's possible that there might be a break in the city's main water line leading to your house, it's far more likely a buildup of sediments in your shower head is the root of the problem instead. You can easily unscrew a faucet or shower head and let it soak in vinegar overnight, which will help dissolve any buildup. If you take this course of action and the problem persists, the odds are that there is a much bigger problem in play. Call a professional plumber to ensure that there isn't a problem with the water supply pipes leading into the house.

    1. Dripping faucets and leaking pipes

    Any kind of breach in your faucets and pipes is obnoxious because of the constant dripping noise it makes and the extra cost it adds to your water utility bill each month. In the case of faucets, it's most likely that the washers or cartridges have become worn down or have broken completely. Although it's not a very difficult job, some cartridges may require special tools that only a plumber will have at the ready. Pipe leaks almost always occur at the pipe joints and can usually be remedied with simple joint filler or solder, at least temporarily. A more permanent fix may require replacing a section of pipe and is best handled by a professional.

    1. Running toilet

    You can continue to jiggle the handle after you flush the toilet to make it stop running, but at a certain point that becomes a chore. Even if you've taken the simple steps of replacing the flapper and float inside the toilet's tank, you could still experience a running toilet. A faulty valve or buildup of sediment can be causing problems that are not quick fixes and will add to your water bill in the form of silent leaks. An easy way to check for a silent leak is to use the food coloring test. Simply add a few drops of red or blue food coloring to the upper tank. If you notice any of the coloring in the bowl after about 20 minutes, you've got a leak in your toilet. Call a professional plumber in Seattle right away.

    1. Clogged drain

    Whether it's a drain in your kitchen sink or one in your bathtub, a drain that doesn't work turns into a problem much faster than you'd think. Using a plunger to rid your drain of the clog is always a good idea, and there are plenty of products out there that you can dump down the drain to help dissolve any built-up debris. Usually you can clear up the problem yourself, but if you find yourself faced with clogs on a regular basis, call an expert in Seattle plumbing services.

    As the weather gets colder, it's a good idea to leave your faucets located nearest the outside walls of your home dripping (both hot and cold water) overnight to prevent frozen and burst pipes.

  • Code For Pooping Humor – Video & Infographic | Roto-Rooter

    Code for Pooping – Because bathroom humor code words are fun and safe

    There must be a thousand euphemisms to describe the act of defecating. Some terms, such as “going number 2” we’ve all known about since childhood and we can use them without conjuring up disgusting visions. Other code words are just downright clever such as “drop the kids off at the pool” while still others cross a line and are just too grotesque to mention in polite conversation. Of course all of the above is subjective since one person’s disgust is another person’s belly laugh.

    Since Roto-Rooter has to deal with “poop” from sewers and drains on a daily basis, we decided to have some fun with the many code words people have for bowel movements. We created a series of silly videos depicting the innocent and literal interpretations of these code words, including “cutting the cable,” “pinching a loaf” and “dropping a load.” Sure, this is plumber humor but most everyone else seems to get a laugh out of it as well.

    You can watch the complete Code for Pooping video series on Roto-Rooter TV, our YouTube channel or on the Roto-Rooter website. Besides YouTube. You can also find the Code for Pooping videos on Roto-Rooter’s Facebook Page. And if you don’t feel like watching a bunch of videos, we’ve followed with a fun Code for Pooping infographic that you can share on social media. Our social followers seem to be enjoying this tongue-in-cheek look at an act that everyone does but few want to talk about unless they’re making a joke. And many of you have even reminded us of some really fun code words we overlooked. Maybe we’ll revisit the topic with a new series of videos sometime in the future. Feel free to comment on your favorite pooping code words, we would love to hear from you. 

  • 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.

Copyright © 2006-2015, Roto-Rooter Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
All services may not be available from all locations.


We use your ZIP code to give you local services and offers.