Roto-Rooter Blog

  • Halloween Can Be Tough on Your Home’s Plumbing | Roto-Rooter

    Roto-Rooter pumpkinYou wouldn’t think Halloween and your plumbing system would have anything in common. But if you ask any plumber, you’ll learn that traditional preparations for Halloween are responsible for a great number of drain clogs. Especially in the kitchen where many homeowners like to carve their pumpkins into Halloween jack-O-lanterns then push all of the sticky pulp and seeds down into the garbage disposal.

    If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin, you know how slimy pumpkin guts are. But what you may not know is what happens to the goop when it’s allowed to harden and dry. It has a glue-like quality so it sticks to any surface and dries as hard as fiberglass. It has to be scraped off of whatever it’s stuck to, so you can imagine what happens to a garbage disposal and sink drain full of pumpkin pulp.  The only cure is a Roto-Rooter machine, which “twists and turns and shaves lines clean.”

    The Best Way to Carve a Pumpkin

    • Spread out a thick bed of newspaper

    • Scoop out the pumpkin pulp and pile it onto the newspaper

    • Wrap up the mess inside the newspaper and throw in garbage can or compost pile

    • Don’t wash your hands in the sink. Use the outside faucet or wipe hands with paper towels until clean

    • Even a small amount of pumpkin pulp can damage your disposal and pipes

    Your Roto-Rooter sewer and drain technician is well equipped to clean your pipes if you suffer a clog from pumpkin pulp. He carries a professional grade drain cleaning machine that is specially designed for sink clogs. It has a sharp blade on the end of the rotating cable that scrapes away any clog right down to the pipe walls so your drains will be as good as new.

    For more Halloween plumbing tips, check out the Halloween section of our plumbing videos.

  • The Right Way to Thaw a Frozen Pipe | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Frozen pipesOne of the most common issues that people experience during the winter comes in the form of a frozen pipe. If not taken care of immediately, a frozen water supply pipe can burst and cause extensive and expensive water damage to your home. How do you know if a pipe is frozen? The biggest indicator is if you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out. If this is the case, it's time to get to work. Here's how to thaw a frozen pipe - the right way:

    Finding the pipe

    Finding a frozen pipe isn't as easy as you might think it is, especially if you have a big house. Check in the most obvious areas, like beneath pier and beam homes in drafty unfinished basements or attics and uninsulated walls - where pipes are exposed to cold air. Once you find the frozen pipe, take action. Open the faucet that is connected to the frozen pipe, and identify the area where it's blocked sometimes it will have frost on the outside but more often than not, it looks like any other water pipe.

    Thaw it

    Next, you need to put heat on the pipe – but no open flames! The fire risk is too great to risk using propane torches candles or other open flames on a copper pipe. Some people turn up their thermostat, but this isn't recommended as the only solution because it will take too long to get results. Do turn up your heat, and open your sink cabinets with pipes beneath them so the warm air circulates around pipes. However, also use handheld hair dryer to run back and forth along the pipe. Make sure you're doing this evenly: Otherwise, the pipe could rupture. You can also place a space heater nearby but keep it at least three feet away from wall materials to prevent a fire.

    You could also purchase some heat tape, sometimes called heat cable, from your local hardware store. Simply wrap it around the pipe evenly and plug it in. The cable will warm up the pipe and thaw the frozen ice. Apply heat until the water flow is restored. Be careful with heat tape. Some homeowners make the mistake of leaving on their pipes year round, which increases the chances of a fire.

    If you run into any problems thawing a frozen pipe, be sure to give your Roto-Rooter plumber a call. Roto-Rooter is equipped with professional grade pipe thawing equipment that can be employed before a pipe bursts and causes water damage.

    What if the pipe bursts?

    If your water supply pipe does burst, turn off the building’s water valve immediately to limit water damage. Call Roto-Rooter to fix the pipe and provide professional water cleanup services to fix water damage.

  • 3 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Licensed Plumber | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Roto-Rooter technicianIf you have a minor toilet clog or leaky shower head, you could always give your neighbor a quick call, but will he or she fix the problem properly? What if the showerhead is screwed on too tightly and a pipe bends? All you're left with is a busted pipe and a sorry neighbor. Although taking measures into your own hands is one way to keep money in the bank, you may end up spending more if your DIY method goes wrong.

    Here are three important reasons why you should hire a licensed plumber:

    1. Passed a background check

    When you welcome a licensed plumber into your home, you know you are safe. Plumbers must pass a criminal background check before they become qualified and receive their license. Before you let your plumber into your home, be sure to ask to see his or her license. You can even call the company and ask for a confirmation of the plumber's identity.

    2. Received proper training

    Licensed plumbers go through extensive rounds of training before being deemed professional. They study piping materials, handy tools and a range of systems including drain, water, sewer and gas lines. In order to be an efficient plumber, one must be well-trained to understand where all the parts go and which pieces fit together. Some states require basic coursework on top of passing a licensing test, while others require continuous education courses to remain updated on the latest billing codes, equipment upgrades and safety concerns.

    3. Won't cause further damage

    To prevent further damage to your pipes and drainage systems, avoid the DIY method. A licensed plumber knows the ins and outs of every system - he or she is able to locate the problem right away without fiddling around. This will save you both time and money in the long run.

    Call your local Roto-Rooter for all of your plumbing needs.

  • Is Your Toilet Running? Here's What to Do | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Running toiletAfter flushing the toilet, there's the familiar sound of water running to refill the tank and bowl. However, if this sound goes on for longer than usual, it could mean you have a leak that could be wasting a considerable amount of water.

    A leaky toilet that's constantly running can waste as much as 200 gallons of water in a single day. That could rack up to more than 6,000 gallons a month, which can also result in an incredibly high water bill.

    Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to check for leaks and repair them:

    1) Check the water level

    In order to determine if you have a leak, you can mark the water level in the toilet tank, turn off the main water supply and wait. Then, check to see where the water level has fallen. If it's any lower than your initial mark, you have a leak.

    2) Check the flapper

    The flapper mechanism inside the tank could be improperly sealed, causing the leak. They suggest pushing the flapper down when the water is running. If it stops, this means the flapper isn't sealing correctly, and that it needs to be replaced.

    3) Check the fill valve

    There could also be a leak in the fill valve, which could cause the water to run. To check for this, lift up the float arm inside the toilet tank while the water is running and the tank is filling. Adjust this arm so that the water stops filling the tank 6 to 12 inches below the top of the overflow pipe. If you notice a leak in the fill valve, it's time for a replacement.

    While toilets aren't complicated mechanisms, it's important that all repairs and replacements are done right. If you're not the DIY type, or just want expert help, contact your local Roto-Rooter today.

  • Remove Doubt About Sewer Line Issues with a Camera Inspection

    Tree root intrusion can be uncovered by a camera inspectionDo you sometimes think that there might be something wrong with your home's plumbing, but you're not sure? There are plenty of warning signs that a problem could be lurking beneath the surface, including:

    • Mold and mildew on non-shower walls

    • Musty smells around the house

    • Sudden problems with rodents and insects

    • Unusually high water bills

    • Water backups on the ground floor or in the basement

    Still, sometimes a broken sewer line (just to pick an example) that is leaking water into your home might be hard for even a professional plumber to diagnose. You might think that the recent backups it caused were just the product of a heavy rainstorm that happened around the same time.

    The only way to remove all doubt is to have a professional plumber come over and do a video camera line inspection. Specially made, waterproof video cameras can be inserted into the sewer line and moved around inside the pipe to inspect its condition. Let's look at a few issues a camera inspection could bring to light:

    1) Root intrusion

    Trees such as maples have extensive root systems that naturally grow toward sewer lines, which are rich in both nutrients and of course water. These roots can get inside pipes and clump up as thick hair-like masses. The pipes then become congested and highly pressurized, leading to possible backups. Cameraing can find roots so that they can be removed in an appropriate manner, like with a snake/auger. Paring cameraing with a chemical root control formula creates a killer combination.

    2) Grease buildups

    Long-chain fatty acids (aka fats and grease) are one of the leading culprits of clogged pipes. Many homes do not have the grease traps or interceptors in place to stop these long-term buildups. So homeowners often have to rely on homemade tips and tricks. Sometimes, though, the clog is so serious that it has to be addressed by a team of licensed plumbers. Cameras can pinpoint the exact location of these buildups.

    3) Off-grade or otherwise damaged pipe

    Some homes are outfitted with old pipes that may be made out substandard materials, especially when compared to what is now available. Damaged cast iron or clay tile might be replaceable with newer PVC, for example. A camera inspection is useful for finding these issues as well as others such as bellied pipes that are collecting paper and waste, corroded pipes, leaking joints, etc.

    4) Blockages

    Depending on the location of a house, it's possible that foreign objects such as large rocks might have found their way into the sewer line. Needless to say, you might not suspect that this had happened unless you had a licensed plumber run a camera line into the pipe.

    A broken or backed up sewer line is a plumbing emergency. If you notice something different about how quickly your water is draining or how your walls look, be sure to contact a professional plumber to help with a camera line inspection to diagnose the issue, a cleaning to remove any obstructions and possibly a sewer line repair.

  • 3 Possible Causes of a Leaky Refrigerator | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Water dropIs your refrigerator running? Well, you better go catch it! Although this may sound like a joke, we're actually pretty serious. If you have a leak in your kitchen, but notice it's not coming from the sink or dishwasher, chances are your refrigerator is the culprit. If you find yourself poking around the fridge and are still not seeing any pools of water, check underneath the appliance. Ah ha - there it is!

    Not sure what's causing the leak? Here are three possibilities:

    1. Water filter

    If your filter is installed improperly, old or doesn't fit with the model of your refrigerator, chances are there is a poor connection between the filter itself and the supply of water. To prevent the appliance from leaking, check to see if water is escaping due to holes in the filter. Also check the size and model of both the fridge and filter to ensure it's a perfect match.

    2. Drain pan

    Check the drain pan, located at the bottom of the refrigerator, for any cracks. It's okay if you spot a tiny bit of water, but if you see a significant amount of pooling, chances are the pan has a crack and that's what's causing the leak. If you notice any damage, replace the pan immediately.

    3. Defrost drain

    One of the most common causes of a leaky refrigerator is a faulty defrost drain. When the drain is blocked by food particles or ice, it prevents the water accumulated during the defrost cycle to properly drain into the pan. Eventually, water will start to build up, and since it has nowhere to drain, it will flow right onto your floor. Remove the blockage by flushing the drain with hot water and removing debris with a wire hanger.

    For more information on flooding due to appliance failure, contact your local Roto-Rooter professional today.

  • 3 Ways to Conserve Water in the Kitchen | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Water dropYou may not realize it, but all that dirty work you do in the kitchen contributes to the 400 gallons of water wasted, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA also found that the average household's leaks account for more than 10,000 gallons of wasted water, so be sure to double check all your kitchen appliances for any signs of pooling. If so, you're most likely dealing with a cracked pipe or faulty machinery. Contact your local Roto-Rooter professional right away so someone can come check it out for you.

    In the meantime, here are three ways to conserve water in the kitchen:

    1. Stop rinsing your dishes

    If you're someone who typically washes the dishes off before putting them in the dishwasher, consider skipping this unnecessary step from here on out. Doing so could save up to 10 gallons of water per every cycle.

    2. Place a full pitcher of water in the fridge

    By constantly keeping a full pitcher of water in your fridge, you'll save both time and water when getting a drink: time in the sense that you won't have to wait for freezing water to flow out, and water in the sense that you aren't just running a constant stream until it reaches your desired temperature.Start stocking up on those pitchers and keep one (or multiple ones) in your refrigerator at all times!

    3. Wash your dishes in the sink

    If you don't have the luxury of a dishwasher, you probably wash your dishes under an open tap. This is a huge waste, considering the fact that this method can use up to 20 gallons of water at a time. Instead, fill the sink up with water (a large bucket or bowl works too) and close your taps. Just refill it when the water starts getting dirty. By simply closing the taps every time you do the dishes, you could save up to 10 gallons of water.

    For more information on sealing those cracked pipes or putting an end to your leaky kitchen appliances, contact your local Roto-Rooter professional today.

  • How to Pick the Right Plunger | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Pick the right plungerSinks, showers and toilets can often become clogged for many different reasons. For many such jobs, a plunger can do the trick and get things rolling again.

    However, in order to ensure a job well done, you must think like a professional plumber and make sure you are choosing the right plunger. Here are three points to keep in mind when shopping for a plunger:

    1) Get the right tool for the job
    There are two main types of plungers, and each type serves a unique purpose. The classic flat-bottomed plunger is meant, perhaps quite naturally, for flat surfaces like sinks. In contrast, the more curved bottom of a toilet requires a protruding flange plunger, which looks like a flat plunger just with an extra bit coming out the bottom.

    2) Make sure it can form a tight seal
    Plungers work by creating a vacuum within the drain, and then allowing you to use this vacuum to your advantage to unclog things. In order for this to happen, however, the plunger needs to be able to make a tight seal around the drain in question. This is why older plungers with cracks or holes in them don't work very well. Before getting a new plunger, be sure it is able to create a good seal both today and well into the future.

    3) Is it comfortable to use?
    Sometimes, plungers don't work unless you put a little elbow grease behind them. Be sure you buy a plunger with good grip that is comfortable to use, as you don't want to strain yourself while clearing a drain.

    If you find that even the best plunger is not doing the trick, fret not. Some clogs are just too big or tricky for a plunger to handle. In those situations, you're much better off calling in a professional plumber. A professional plumber as more than just a plunger at his or her disposal!

  • Quick, Effective Fixes for Your Leaky Kitchen Faucet | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Kitchen FaucetWant to get rid of that annoying, drip, drip, drip of your faucet? Good news: There are ways you can do this yourself. Although this problem may seem small, it can actually cause bigger issues down the road, like increasing your water bill or growing mold. Here are a few quick ways to fix your leaky kitchen faucet:

    Replace the seal
    First, shut off your water supply to the sink. This step is vital in protecting your home from water damage while you work. Then, you can move on to the main repairs. A typical issue that could be causing your leak is a worn-out rubber gasket or seal that's located inside the valve. Replacing this piece should fix your problem, but you may have to disassemble your faucet to reach it.

    Dirty aerator
    The aerator could also be a reason that you are experiencing a leak in your faucet. Take a look at it, and see if there are any particles surrounding it. If so, remove them, and see if the leak is gone. Keep in mind that the nozzle could also be loose. If so, use a wrench to tighten it, and see if the spigot is still leaking.

    Invest in a new one
    If your leaky-faucet problem persists after trying the quick fixes above, it may be time to purchase a new fixture altogether. Faucets experience a lot of wear and tear over time, especially the ones found in your kitchen. Buying a new one will definitely solve your problem. And if you decide to buy a new one, consider the many new options available to you, including hands-free faucets for the home.

    Call a professional
    Sometimes, the issue might be out of your hands. If your faucet isn't old, and you've tried fixing it, it could be a bigger issue with your plumbing. Don't hesitate to call Roto-Rooter. We'll send out a professional and experienced plumber to take care of your kitchen faucet repair.

  • Shape Up for the Season with These Seven Tips | Roto-Rooter Blog

    Fall is coming—and while it’s not as ominous as winter, even slight dips in temperature can throw your commercial building’s systems out of whack. Here are seven tips to make sure your building is prepared for the new season.

    1. Fall is the best time to prepare your landscaping for spring. Inspect dead trees and shrubs that may need replacement and take care of any mulching and weeding before winter comes. Clean out your roof drains and inspect any skylights for damage.

    1. If the age of your HVAC system is nearing the double digits, you should consider replacing them before the temperatures drop. Many older gas furnaces only work at 50% efficiency while new furnaces have ratings of 92%–98% efficiency. If you don’t need a replacement, it’s still important to check the furnace for cracks and have it professionally cleaned.

    1. Open the supply registers on lower levels of your building and close ones on the upper levels. This can help your commercial system heat quickly and efficiently when the time comes.

    1. Cooler seasons can take a big toll on your sewers and septic system. The beginning of fall is the best time to conduct routine maintenance and check for any damage. This is also a great time to drain your septic tank if you have one. Roto-Rooter is always available for any of your plumbing needs or questions; just call 1-800-GET-ROTO.

    1. While frost might not seem like an issue just yet, it can surprise us when we least expect it. Keep your eye on the forecast for unseasonably low temperatures. If you see a dip into colder weather, detach your hoses from the outside taps. If you have an underground sprinkler system, drain and turn off those pipes as well.

    1. For many regions, the new season can bring a lot of rainfall. Evaluate your storm pipes, catch basins and discharge pipes for deterioration or blocks. Repair any damages and remove any plants that may be impeding the system.

    1. Ensure that your hot water tank is working properly by checking the bottom of the pan for excess water. If the tank is leaking or if you find water at the bottom, you should call the professionals at Roto-Rooter immediately to fix the problem.

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