Roto-Rooter Blog

  • Floor Drain Maintenance Tips

    In the family of indoor plumbing, people often overlook floor drains. Floor drains resemble the drains you see in bathtubs and showers since they’re flush with the surface, but actual floor drains are commonly found in basement floors, garages, laundry rooms, older bathroom floors and sometimes on patios and driveways. Floor drains are installed anyplace where fast, efficient water drainage is needed.

    Since they are often ignored, most homeowners don’t think about floor drain maintenance until it’s too late. Many issues with floor drains can be avoided with some pre-planning and simple care. Following these easy maintenance tasks will ensure that your floor drains will do their jobwhen you need them to and prevent flooding and the expensive water damage left behind.

    Fill Traps Often

    Indoor floor drains capture overflow from sinks, toilets, tubs, water heaters, washing machines, etc. Outdoor floor drains quickly move water away from surfaces during and after heavy rainstorms. Whether indoors or outdoors, floor drains are designed to efficiently and safely direct water to a sewer or municipal storm drain so that the floor stays dry and rooms don't flood. The purpose of traps is to prevent sewer odors and gasses from making their way through the drain and into your home. Make sure to fill these traps regularly to ensure they're working as they should - simply pour a gallon of water down each floor drain in your home. The water will fill the trap, forming a barrier between your home and your sewer system.

    Clear Clogs Immediately

    Many different types of debris collect on your floor, from pet hair to dust bunnies, all of it runs the risk of ending up and potentially clogging our floor drain. The first sign of a drain clogging is if it is draining slowly. If you catch the clog early on, clean it as soon as possible to reduce the risk of flooding. Typically, a few strong pumps with a plunger can clear that minor clog. If not, try pouring a solution of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. If you have a drain auger, feed the cable into the drain until you meet resistance, then turn the cable and try to reel back whatever is clogging the drain

    Clean your Drains regularly

    At least once each quarter, check your drains for debris and clear them. If necessary, use a safe, liquid drain cleaner, or, if your drains haven't been cleaned in a while, have a professional plumber from your local Roto-Rooter do the job for you. It's also good idea to schedule professional drain cleanings annually to prevent clogs and keep your drains running.

  • Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning

    If you experience water damage from a plumbing leak or flood in your home, professional carpet cleaning will be an important step in the damage restoration process. The most effective method for restoring carpets after water damage is hot water extraction.

    What is hot water extraction?

    You may have heard people use the terms “steam cleaning” and “hot water extraction” interchangeably. In reality, there is no steam involved in hot water extraction carpet cleaning. There are a few problems with steam cleaning, most notably, that steam can actually set some stains in. Further, steam cannot rinse detergent or special cleaning solutions as thoroughly from carpets as hot water can. For these reasons, hot water extraction is the most popular and most effective method for carpet cleaning.

    The professional carpet cleaning process begins with a thorough vacuuming to remove any loose dirt and soil. Next, during hot water extraction, hot water and cleaning agents are injected into your carpet at high pressure and agitated with a specialized brush in order to loosen dirt and grime. A technician then removes the water, cleaning solution and dirt with a high-powered vacuum. This process may be repeated, depending on the extent of the damage. Anti-microbial treatments can also be included in the carpet cleaning process to prevent the growth and spread of mold, mildew, yeast and other allergens.

    Hot water extraction carpet cleaning is not just part of a flood restoration process. Proactive annual cleanings are an important part of regular home maintenance and long-term carpet care.

    Can I DIY?

    You can rent small carpet cleaning machines from local retailers for minor stains or issues. However, these machines are not as effective or efficient as professional carpet cleaners. Rental carpet cleaning machines may or may not generate heat, meaning you might be removing surface stains but not actually sanitizing carpets. Compared to rental machines, truck-mounted units inject the water and cleaning agents into your carpet at a much higher pressure and their vacuum systems for water removal and dirt extraction are equally superior. By hiring professionals, you’ll also minimize the risk of over-wetting carpet and causing further damage.

    When is carpet cleaning not enough?

    Hot water extraction will not be effective in some flood restoration or water damage situations. In these cases, it is advisable to discard the carpet, pad, and any other porous items like upholstered furniture that have gotten wet. Cleaning methods like hot water extraction are not sufficient to remove pathogens from this type of water.

    • Exposure to raw sewage or “black water,” which is water that contains human waste
    • Damage to the subfloor, such as warped or swollen particle board or plywood
    • Structural damage below the carpet

    If you’ve experienced water damage and you aren’t sure what’s salvageable and what isn’t, Roto-Rooter’s plumbing experts are available to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, when you need service most. No matter what time of day, your call is sure to be answered by a live Roto-Rooter customer service representative who will quickly send a qualified technician to assess the water damage and determine the best course of action.

  • Three Types of Wastewater

    Oh no! You’ve experienced a flooding or sewage emergency inside your home. What happens next?

    The steps you’ll take to begin addressing water damage in your home depend heavily on the type of wastewater you’re dealing with.


    Blackwater refers to wastewater contaminated with human waste. Blackwater comes from flush toilets and bidets, and contains human waste such as urine and feces as well as toilet paper. Blackwater can also include water from food preparation sinks, dishwashers and other sources. Raw sewage is classified as blackwater. Blackwater is a haven for dangerous bacteria and pathogens that must fully decompose before being released into the environment. It can also be contaminated with dissolved chemicals and particulates, making contact even more dangerous.

    When it comes to home flooding emergencies, blackwater floods are the most dangerous and the most destructive. Because of the grossly unsanitary conditions of the water, porous and absorbent items such as carpets, upholstery and drywall are often unsalvageable. Contact with blackwater via ingestion or skin contact can cause illness in both humans and pets.

    If you suspect that your home flooding situation involves sewage or blackwater, it is advisable to contact a professional plumber or water restoration expert to assess the situation before attempting to begin remedying it yourself.


    Greywater, or sullage, refers to wastewater that is not contaminated with fecal matter. As far as household wastewater goes, greywater could include water from bathtubs and showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and sinks. It generally contains fewer pathogens than blackwater and can be reused for non-potable purposes, such as toilet flushing. Greywater still contains small amounts of contaminants and can induce illness if ingested.

    Floods by greywater can be caused by a weather event, an overflowing plumbing fixture or appliance or even a broken pipe. This type of greywater can saturate carpeting, furniture and drywall. If you experience a home flood with greywater, take caution when beginning the cleaning process. Wear protective gear, and keep children, pets and individuals with a compromised immune system away from the flooded area. If the flood is extensive, such as several inches of water in the basement, it is advisable to hire professionals to safely clean up and decontaminate the area. Cleanup must begin immediately--greywater can become blackwater in as little as 48 hours.

    Clean Water

    Floodwater that does not post an immediate health threat is known as clean water. Seems obvious, right? Clean water floods can result from malfunctioning appliances, toilet holding tanks, and melting snow and rainwater. Clean water home floods are generally safe for you to clean up yourself, but remember--time is an important factor. Standing clean water can become greywater in as little as 48 hours.

  • Drain Cleaning without Harsh Chemicals

    Many people don’t immediately recognize the onset of a clogged drain until it’s too late. A clogged drain will lead to you many problems that will be costly and damaging. It starts out with the inability to use the sink, shower, or toilet and then those issues could turn into a chronic clog that could cause water damage from over-flowing water.

    The most common clog removal method is pouring a chemical mixture from your local supermarket down the drain. While this is an effective method, it does have its disadvantages such as high toxicity levels, chemicals degrading your pipes, and the plastic containers may end up in landfills or bodies of water instead of being disposed correctly.

    Luckily, with a few household items you can clear that clog while helping the environment and saving your pipes.


    • ½ cup of Baking soda
    • 1 cup of Vinegar
    • Hot Water


    • Remove stopper
    • Pour baking soda down the drain
    • Pour vinegar down the drain
    • Wait 10 minutes
    • Pour hot water down the drain
    • Replace stopper

    You may need to repeat the process a second for third time for really stubborn clogs. If you are still experiencing a blockage, contact your local Roto-Rooter because there could be a larger undetected problem.

  • How To Clean Up Your Flooded Basement

    A flood emergency can happen at any time. A flooded basement can be caused by all sorts of things, including a broken sump pump, storm sewer backup, a burst washing machine hose or even a failed water heater tank. No matter what causes a flood, there are important steps a homeowner can take to begin the flood cleanup process.

    If flood water inside your home is pumped out promptly, your walls, as well as your carpet, flooring, ceiling and personal property can quickly become damaged, creating an unsafe environment of breeding bacteria, mold growth and rotting wood. The flood restoration process consists of two major phases: flood water removal, and flood cleanup, which includes the drying process.

    Flood Water Removal

    If there is only a relatively small amount of water, you may be able to mitigate some of the flood damage by beginning the drying process on your own. Remove as much flood water as possible with wet-dry vacuums and pumps. Squeegee water into floor drains. If floor drains are clogged, try plunging or use a drain snake to remove the clogs. If you don’t own water removal equipment, you can typically rent a pump from a tool rental store. (Remember, diesel and gasoline engines create deadly carbon monoxide exhaust fumes. Never use gasoline-powered pumps indoors).

    After water removal, dry out the affected area with fans and dehumidifiers to prevent mold and mildew from forming. If possible, open doors and windows to help maximize air circulation.

    Remember, water removal is just the first step. Simple drying techniques are often not enough when removing water after a flood. The approach you take to water damage restoration will depend heavily on the types of rooms and belongings affected.

    Cleaning and Disinfecting

    Upholstery, carpets, walls and floor coverings are porous which means a basic cleaning will not suffice and more extensive disinfection, deodorizing and flood restoration is required. Surface cleaning only removes visible contamination. Microorganisms are often left behind, which can potentially cause health problems and unpleasant odors. All surfaces affected by water damage must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and deodorized in order to properly eliminate mold, bacteria, fungi and other viruses.

    Everything that came into contact with the floodwater must be cleaned. You don’t need to purchase anything special. Most household cleaners will be effective for flood cleanup. After cleaning walls and nonporous surfaces with a household cleaner or detergent, follow up with a disinfectant to prevent future mold or mildew growth. A diluted bleach solution (½ cup liquid chlorine bleach to a gallon of water) can work for this as well. For large areas, you can use a garden spray pump or similar tool. Let everything air dry.

    Fabric and paper items may or may not be salvageable, depending on the length of exposure and any sentimental or financial value. Best practice is if in doubt, throw it out. Old toys, books, cardboard boxes, blankets, throw pillows, clothes, and the like should not be kept unless they can be safely bleached. Important papers, books, and photographs can actually be frozen and dealt with later, once the water is removed and the area is drying out. Place a sheet of wax paper in between pages and store safely in a frost-free freezer to address later.

    In many cases, carpet and padding often cannot be cleaned well enough to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. The same goes for subflooring made of plywood or particle board. If your basement is finished, you may need to cut out and throw away the affected drywall and remove any affected insulation. You may also need to remove baseboard trim. (Pressboard will likely be ruined, but solid wood trim may be saved.)

    Many homeowners are tempted to quickly move past the flood damage and jump straight into rebuilding, but rushing through the flood cleanup process before everything fully dries usually leads to problems. Though time consuming, it is imperative that you disinfect every surface in order to prevent mold and mildew. In moderate to severe flood situations, allow a week or more for visible moisture to disappear. It can take as long as two weeks or more for unseen moisture (such as behind walls or inside air ducts) to fully evaporate.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the water floodwater restoration process, call a professional water cleanup service like Roto-Rooter, to begin the water cleanup and drying process with professional grade drying and dehumidifying equipment.

    Call your insurance company. Remember that Roto-Rooter will work directly with your insurance company to make this difficult time as easy on you as possible.

    Roto-Rooter’s water restoration technicians are IICRC certified. They will perform water extraction; remove unsalvageable contents, such as carpet and other flooring, drywall, paneling, shelving, cabinets; and clean the affected areas before apply disinfecting and deodorizing agents. Roto-Rooter will thoroughly dry the structure and haul away harmful and water-damaged debris.

    The water damage restoration professionals at Roto-Rooter are experienced at getting your home or business back to normal as quickly as possible and Roto-Rooter is available when you need service most, 24/7/365.

  • How to Prepare Your Outdoor Plumbing for Cold Weather

    A Guide to Winterizing Outdoor Plumbing

    Outdoor faucetFor most of the U.S. the transition from warm weather to cold weather is right around the corner and can often leave homeowners unprepared. Taking the time to prep your outdoor plumbing for winter now, will be beneficial in the long run. Follow these tips while time is on your side, instead of waiting until the cold weather arrives.

    Check for Leaks

    It’s important to inspect outdoor faucets, also known as spigots or hose bibs, for drips. If you find that your outdoor plumbing is leaking, call your local Roto-Rooter plumber to make all the necessary repairs before temperatures get so cold that the faucet can freeze and cause even more problems. For instance, when outdoor faucets experience a hard freeze, that freeze tends to affect the connecting water supply pipe. If that pipe is made of copper or plastic, it often splits open the pipe. As long as the pipe remains frozen, you won’t notice the problem, but after it thaws, the pipe can flood your home. Very quickly.

    Shut off Water & Drain your Pipes

    After you have checked for active leaks and before you start shutting down your outdoor plumbing, be sure to shut off the water leading out of your home so water doesn’t rest in your pipes. If you home is equipped with interior shutoff valves leading to the outside faucets, turn off the valve, then go outside and turn on the outside hose bibs until all remaining water in the line drains out. Water left in your pipes will freeze, expand, and possibly burst your pipes. By draining your pipes completely, you avoid the high risk of frozen pipes and pricy solutions.

    Cover and Conceal

    Once all water is drained from any supply pipe leading outside, detach any hose from the outdoor hose bib and stow away indoors. Next, go to your local hardware store and pick up a faucet insulation kit. Prices can vary depending on kit and hardware store but most kits are just a few dollars.  Follow your kits’ directions to cover and conceal your outdoor plumbing.

    If you are having trouble winterizing your outdoor plumbing, call your local Roto-Rooter plumbers are ready to give advice and walk you through the steps.

  • Marketing Home Services to Millennials

    Restroom Manners“…And away your troubles down the drain, Roto-Rooter!” - that’s the way parents and grandparents remembered our famous jingle, which has played at the end of radio and TV commercials for generations. However, a new generation of homeowners doesn’t depend solely on radio and TV to learn about home services providers. Millennials use different tools to educate themselves before hiring service providers. According to The Washington Post, the percentage of homeowners under the age of 35 is now up to 34.1%. That makes them a very attractive demographic for plumbers, carpet cleaners, electricians and pest control companies.

    Roto-Rooter’s efforts to create brand awareness to Millennials has been quite successful. By taking bolder marketing approaches with a stronger emphasis on social media marketing, Roto-Rooter has successfully made its name more recognizable and relatable to Millennials. Roto-Rooter understands that traditional media channels have less influence on many Millennials, who spend a great deal of time on their smart phones using social media platforms. Roto-Rooter’s use of humor to deliver useful information via YouTube, Facebook and Instagram helps the plumbing, drain and water damage cleanup company’s brand messaging to break through media clutter.

    Roto-Rooter’s latest campaign called “Restroom Manners” is a series of funny videos designed to grab millennials’ attention with relatable scenarios that happen to men in public restrooms. This campaign touches on everything from intruding on another individual’s personal space to the “courtesy flush”. The 10-video series is being featured on both Facebook and YouTube. While Millennials seem to easily relate to the humorous situations portrayed in the videos, some older viewers aren’t as comfortable with the idea of shining a spotlight on the goings on inside public restrooms. It seems restroom behavior remains a taboo subject for some older viewers and a few have expressed their dissatisfaction with the content. Online demographic targeting within each social network helps Roto-Rooter place the videos in front of more Millennials while avoiding most older viewers, though sometimes the videos get shared and accidentally find their way to a more mature audience.

    The Restroom Manners series follows successful humorous videos Roto-Rooter has produced for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

  • The Water Cleanup Process After a Home Flood

    Water cleanupHas your home ever had clogged drainpipes? Has your sewer ever backed up, maybe causing household drains to overflow? Have you ever experienced a water heater failure? How about a sump pump failure? Have you ever heard of washing machine water supply hoses bursting and flooding a home? When you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll eventually experience one or more of the dreadful water damage scenarios just mentioned. But you can avoid some of these pitfalls by being better prepared. If you plan ahead for these disasters, you can avoid them altogether or at least lessen their impact.

    Luckily, Roto-Rooter has your back. The smartest preparation plan you can make is to keep Roto-Rooter’s phone number handy. It’s . We’re often the first call people make when they’re facing water damage problems in their home or business because we’ve been fixing water issues since 1935. Our experienced plumbers are trained to fix the source of the water problem and our team of water damage cleanup experts will extract all the water, remove damaged flooring, furniture and drywall and then they’ll dry out your home so it can be put back together.

    Roto-Rooter's vehicles are fully equipped with state-of-the-art water extraction, drying and moisture testing equipment to handle everything from a confined clean water leak to massive filthy sewer backups. We’ll have it cleaned up, deodorized and we’ll even treat with anti-microbial products to decontaminate the area and prevent mold growth. In short, we can help your life get back to normal.

    How do we do it? After your home is affected by unexpected water intrusion, the damage to your property and contents will be thoroughly documented with photos of the loss before we start working. We’ll take more photos during the cleanup process and again after our work in completed. The professionals at Roto-Rooter are also trained to prepare sketches and keep drying logs for your insurance company, so that your claim can be processed quickly and accurately. After our work is finished, our advanced equipment is removed only when the temperature, humidity and moisture testing confirms that affected areas have been effectively dried to industry approve standards. Next time disaster strikes in your home, just call Roto-Rooter. One call, one service provider and one less thing for you and your family to worry about during a difficult time.

  • 94 Reasons Why You Need Clean Restrooms

    bathroom sinksA 2014 survey by the Harris Group showed that 94% of U.S. adults would avoid a business in the future if they encountered a dirty restroom. One of the top reasons cited for considering a restroom unacceptable: standing water on the floor around the sinks or toilets.

    Obviously, businesses can’t afford to have messy, dirty, unappealing restrooms caused by plumbing problems. That’s why Roto-Rooter should be your preferred plumbing partner. With the best plumbers, most advanced equipment in the industry and rapid-response service, Roto-Rooter will keep your restroom plumbing operating in tip-top shape so your floors stay dry and your customers coming back.

    And, that’s money in the bank for you!

    Watch our video to learn more about Roto-Rooter Commercial Services

  • How to Use A Plunger for Your Sink

    Clogged sink with plungerWhen you have a clogged sink, what do you do about it? Pour hot water down the drain? Try to fish out the offending object with a hanger? Use Drain-O? These options all have their use cases, but more often than not a plunger is the best option for the sink.

    While most of us associate plungers with the toilet, they're great for unclogging drains all around your house – provided you know what you're doing, of course. If you don't know how to use a plunger for your sink, then check out our easy “how-to” video or follow these steps:

    First, choose the right type. Plungers are not a one-size-fits-all tool, as you need the right one for the job. As opposed to a protruding flange plunger, the classic flat-on-the-bottom plunger is meant for sinks. Since sinks are flat on the bottom, so too should the plunger you use. That way, you can create a tight seal, which is needed in order for a plunger to work properly.

    Next, make sure you're using it correctly. Once a tight seal has been created to ensure you have a vacuum in place, gently compress and then use force to pull back up. This way, the item clogging the drain goes up and out, as opposed to becoming further stuck in there.

    Even if you know how to use a plunger for your sink, you may still find that the drain remains clogged. Fear not if this happens to you, as it's a common occurrence. Instead of taking the whole sink apart to remove the clog, simply call your nearest Roto-Rooter plumbing professional for help. A professional plumber has the knowledge and special set of skills needed to handle especially jobs. When plungers aren't up to the task, luckily a professional plumber is just a phone call away.

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