What to Do When Your Sewer Line is Blocked

What to Do When There’s a Sewer Line is Blocked

Do you fear that your sewer drain has become backed up? Are your drains making gurgling noises, is water backing up out of those drains, or are your toilets constantly running? All of these warning signs point directly toward a sewer line that’s blocked. Here’s what you can and should do about this serious plumbing issue.

What Causes Sewer Lines to block?

Daily habits, behaviors, and environmental reasons can contribute to sewer line blocks, so it’s important to know what not to do when it comes to your home’s plumbing system.

  • Flushing anything down the toilet (besides waste and toilet paper)
  • Pouring grease down the drain
  • Tree root infiltration
  • Debris (like mud, clay, grass) can get into the line
  • When the sewer line begins to sag over time

What to Do Next?

If the warning signs are present in your home, you might have some sort of drain or sewer line blockage and it should be removed as soon as possible. For situations when only one drain is affected by this blockage, you can attempt to use a drain snake to try and remove the blockage. However, if all of your drains and plumbing fixtures are affected by this blockage, there is a bigger sewer line issue that needs to be addressed by a professional plumber.

What to Expect

Once your local, reliable plumber arrives (Rods Away), they should be able to quickly diagnose what the problem is a sort out a solution for you.

Sewer lines can clog for multiple reasons, so as a homeowner it’s up to you to make sure yours is cleared and working perfectly at all times. When your home needs a professional drain or sewer line cleaning, contact Jonie @ Rods Away. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (01495) 687667.

KEEP YOUR PLUMBING FLOWING THROUGH THE CHRISTMAS RUSH

This month will be the busiest month of the year in a lot of kitchens. And it’s no coincidence that it will also be one of the busiest months of the year for plumbers. In the emergency plumbing business, Drain blockages and sink clogs are as much a Christmas tradition as turkey and stuffing.

Christmas isn’t the only month notorious for plumbing problems — the entire holiday season can push some household plumbing systems to their limit, both from the surge in kitchen activity and the increased bathroom traffic from gatherings and overnight guests. But if you observe a few best practices and perform some light maintenance, you can keep your kitchen and bathroom in prime plumbing condition for the holidays.

Disposals Aren’t for Everything

Used properly, your garbage disposal can save you from some of the messiest kitchen tasks. It’s ideal for disposing of leftovers that are too liquid or smelly for the trash can, and it can make quick work of a whole spectrum of kitchen scraps. But even top-of-the-line disposals can struggle with some substances, and knowing what to avoid is key.

This kitchen waste belongs in the trash, never the disposal:

Celery and asparagus: vegetables like these are so fibrous that they can actually wrap around the disposal blade and grind it to a halt.

Potato peels: this is a rookie Christmas mistake — if you peel your potatoes into the disposal, you run the risk of creating a starchy paste that can gum up the works.

Fat, grease and oil: These can solidify around the blade and in your drain pipe, restricting movement and water flow.

Pasta and rice: These foods expand in water, even after they’ve been fully cooked. Stuffing your disposal with leftover noodles can overfill the chamber before you know it.

Bones: Fine fish bones are generally okay, but turkey bones and anything larger belongs in the garbage or compost.

Have a Plan

If you’ve never manually cleared a clog in your garbage disposal, now is the time to learn the safe and proper way. The best source for this information is your disposal’s manual, which you can likely find online with a quick search for your disposal’s manufacturer name and model number.

Most models have a manual crank at the bottom that allows you to turn the blade when it’s stuck. It’s never truly safe to reach into a garbage disposal, even when it’s completely disconnected from power, so the manual crank is the preferred method for loosening clogs.

Your disposal may also be able to shut itself down to prevent damage to the motor in the event of a clog. If your disposal has this feature, you’ll need to press a reset button to restore power once you’ve manually cleared the clog.

Full House

Whether you’re just entertaining for the evening or you’re putting up a house full of guests for several days, your bathrooms are going to get busy when you’re playing host. Before your guests arrive, peek inside your toilet’s tank just to make sure your flapper is in good condition and everything is in its place. It’s also a good idea to stick a plunger in the bathroom just so that it’s at the ready in the event of a potential overflow.

As for furnishing hot showers for everyone, you may find that you need to stagger showers at different times to avoid outrunning your water heater. If your water heater’s thermostat is set lower than 120 degrees — the highest safe setting — you’ll get a helpful boost by temporarily increasing the setting to that level.

And if you tend to play host to a big crowd year after year, you might consider making your next water heater a tankless model. They come at a higher upfront cost, but they’re more energy efficient than standard water heaters and you’ll never run out of hot water with their on-demand heating.

Whether you need emergency help with an overstuffed disposal or a tankless water heater installed before Christmas, your local Rods Away is standing by to help.

REMOVING RUST STAINS FROM SINKS, TUBS AND TOILETS

Yesterday, we covered some of the ways that rusty pipes, fixtures and water heaters can lead to rust particles in your water supply. This week, we’ll talk about what you can do about the brown stains this water can leave on your sinks, tubs and toilets over time.

These stubborn stains aren’t necessarily the result of rust problems in your plumbing system or even in the water authority’s pipelines. Any water with a sufficiently high iron content can leave these stains behind over time, even if the water tastes normal and appears to be clear. So if you live in an area with lots of iron deposits underground, that iron is probably leaching into the groundwater and could potentially lead to these troublesome porcelain stains.

It usually takes a good amount of contact between rusty water and porcelain for tough stains to appear, so you’re most likely to see this in areas where there’s always standing water, like your toilet bowl. If there’s a brownish ring around the water line or brown streaks leading down from the outlets where water flows into the bowl, these may be rust stains that won’t come clean with the usual toilet cleaner and scrub brush.

In sinks and tubs, the place where these stains most frequently form is in the little ridge around the drain. If you have a leaky faucet, there may also be brown stains right where the water drips.

You may need a plumber’s help in identifying and correcting the underlying issue. If it’s rusty pipes or a rusty hot water heater, you’ll need to replace those items to stop the flow of rusty water. And if it’s coming from naturally occurring iron-rich water, installing a water softening system can help bring the problem under control.

As for cleaning those stains, you have your work cut out for you — over time, severe rust stains can permanently etch themselves into the porcelain. But if you’re up to the challenge, try these trusted remedies:

Abrasive scouring pads. The rough side of a standard two-color kitchen sponge may be all you need to lift away light stains, but there are also versions of this product that are designed specifically for tough stains on toilets and tubs. This is a good first choice because there are no chemicals involved (which is eco-friendly) and high quality scouring pads can usually be cleaned and reused several times.

Pumice. The airy, crumbly volcanic rock is renowned for its gentle scouring abilities, and there are a few pumice products that are ideal for removing rust stains from porcelain. Try using a pumice stick or scrubber designed for porcelain and tile — much like with a scouring pad, you’ll need to apply some elbow grease, but you’ll save money in the long run with multiple cleanings per product.

Lemon juice and salt. If you don’t have either of the above-mentioned products on hand, you may still be able to clean those stains without taking a trip to the hardware store. A wet paste of lemon juice and salt is a potent combination that can effectively attack rust stains if given time to penetrate. It doesn’t form a sticky paste, so it’s tough to use this technique on a toilet bowl, but it works great on flat surfaces like sink and tub drains. Let the mixture soak for at least 15 minutes or up to several hours, then scrub away with a toothbrush.

Chemical cleaners. If those environmentally safe scouring techniques don’t work for you, you can always try a chemical cleaner — but your everyday cleaners won’t cut it. Even bleach is a poor match for tough rust stains. Look for a cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid and is safe for use as a tub and tile cleaner. Follow the safety instructions carefully, as these products are hazardous if mishandled.

No sink, toilet or tub is made to last forever, and etched-in rust stains may have you thinking about replacement. The experts at your local Rods Away can not only help you install new fixtures, they can help you stop the problem at its source.

WHEN RUSTY WATER APPEARS, FIND THE SOURCE FAST

You count on the water coming from your taps to be clean and clear. So what if the color and taste are suddenly a little off? The culprit could be rust, and depending on the age of your pipes and water heater, it could be coming from inside your house.

There’s also a chance rusty water could stem from your public water supply, especially if you live in an older city that hasn’t refurbished its water system in many decades. But before you even call your local plumber, you can collect a few clues that can point to the source of the problem.

Is It Rust?

It often doesn’t take a laboratory test to determine if the impurity in a water sample is rust. Sufficiently rusty water will have a distinctive metallic odor and a reddish brown appearance.

The rust particles themselves are oxidized iron, and while they can leave unsightly stains in your porcelain sinks and white linens, they don’t pose a health hazard, according to the University of California. One exception may be people afflicted with a rare disorder called hemochromatosis, which allows the body to accumulate excessive iron levels.

Where Is It Coming From?

The first question is whether the rusty water is originating within your home plumbing system or in the public supply. To investigate, go to the fixture where you first noticed the rusty water and fill a glass with cold water only. Check the sample for rusty odors or coloring, then let the cold water flow for several seconds before checking another sample. Next, run the hot water for several seconds and sample that.

If the rusty water is only present in the hot water supply or if it goes away after several seconds of running water, those are both strong indications that the rust source is in your home. But if you have continuous rusty water in both taps, you should call your local water authority immediately to report the problem.

Your DIY test should also help you further narrow down the source if you find that it’s coming from within your home. If rusty water came from the cold water tap, that indicates a corroding pipe or pipes in your home plumbing system. And if it’s coming only from the hot water tap, that means your water heater is probably rusting out.

What Can I Do?

No matter the cause, the fix comes down to one word: replacement. If an old section of the public water system is rusting out, it’s the public authority’s responsibility to replace those failing pipes. And if the same is happening to the pipes in your home, a qualified plumber can conduct a thorough investigation to identify the rusty pipes and craft a plan to replace them.

If the source is your water heater, replacement is also the recommended route. Once corrosion begins, it will usually progress until the integrity of the tank fails completely. But there is one important thing you can do to avoid your new water heater from suffering the same fate: replace the anode rod every few years.

An anode rod is a long, metal rod that extends into your water heater tank. Its purpose is to attract corrosive particles so they attack the rod and spare the water heater. But the rod itself is eaten away in this process, and when it’s whittled down to its core, there’s nothing stopping those particles from moving on to attack the tank. The lifespan of an anode rod is typically five years, or shorter if you have a water softening system.

Do you need help investigating the source of your rusty water or inspecting your hot water heater to make sure it’s protected? Call your local Rods Away now to request service or ask for more information.

COMMON CAUSES OF TOILET CLOGS

Inadvertently clogging the toilet — or discovering too late that it’s already clogged — is one of the more embarrassing plumbing mishaps. And it can also be a tricky one to address because there are so many potential causes.

The good news is that most toilet clogs can be avoided altogether with an ounce of prevention, and many more can be cleared up with just a minute or two of vigorous plunging. But for those other, more difficult causes, you may need to call upon your local plumbing pro.

Here are a few of the most common reasons why your toilet might be clogged:

You Flushed the Wrong Stuff

The toilet is for disposing of human waste and toilet paper — and that’s it. You’re taking a risk whenever you flush anything outside of those parameters, like tissues, cotton balls, cotton swabs, dental floss, feminine products or diapers. If these things get caught somewhere in the drain line, they won’t break down and move on like toilet paper can. So resist the urge to flush anything else, and if you have children in the home who might be tempted, be sure to talk to them about what’s flushable.

A Jam in the Trap

All drain pipes have something called a trap — a u-shaped bend in the pipe that remains filled with water. That water acts as an important barrier against foul odors that might otherwise waft into a home from the sewer line. Your toilet’s trap is great at getting this job done, but unfortunately, that bend in the pipe also makes a good place for a clog to develop. Even if you’ve been careful about what you flush, something like using too much toilet paper can create a clog there.

Ineffective Flapper

If you take the lid off your toilet tank, you should see a round rubber gasket at the bottom. This is the flapper, and it opens during flushing to allow the water in the tank to flush down into the bowl. If the flapper doesn’t open fully, you may get a weak flush, which can cause clogs by failing to push the contents of the bowl far enough down the drain pipe. This is easy to fix — the flapper is usually attached to the flush arm with an adjustable chain, so move the chain a few links to shorten it and try a test flush.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Water-conscious homeowners have been buying low-flow toilets for years, but the early versions weren’t as powerful as the ones you can buy today. And just as with the flapper example above, the first low-flow toilets may not always flush hard enough to push the contents through. If you’re consistently having trouble with one of these models, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

Hit the Roof

When your toilet won’t flush, it’s possible that the clog isn’t in the drain pipe, but in the toilet’s vent. Plumbing fixtures typically vent to a home’s roof to allow fresh air into the plumbing system, where it replaces the vacuum of air created when water drains. When this vent becomes clogged with leaves or debris, it can cause slow, gurgling or stopped drains, even in the toilet. This job is best handled by a professional, because the vent will need to be cleared out from the rooftop opening.

Down the Line

If the source of the problem isn’t in the toilet, the drain pipe or the vent, it must be in the sewer line. This is often a worst-case scenario if a problem occurs in a section of sewer pipe located under private property, because it often involves digging up the yard and racking up several hours of labor. Sewer line problems aren’t always caused by what’s flowing through the pipes; tree roots can put pressure on these lines over time, leading to a break. To find out what’s going on in the sewer line, request a camera inspection from your local plumber.

A toilet clog isn’t the end of the world, but if you don’t know the cause or can’t clear it on your own, help is only a phone call away at your local Rods Away.

REPAIRING YOUR PLUMBING AFTER A FLOOD

If your home is impacted by flooding, there may be hidden plumbing damage that you won’t find until a licensed plumber conducts a thorough inspection of your property. Here are a few of the most common post-flood plumbing problems:

Clogged Drains

Floodwater invariably contains some amount of dirt and silt, and when the waters recede, that residue is left behind. Any drains in your home that were covered by floodwater could be clogged with these particles. In many cases, the usual DIY tools — a plunger or a plumbing snake — can clear these clogs. But if you’re worried about damage down the pipe and are planning on a professional plumbing inspection anyway, you may want to leave these drains as-is until your plumber gives you the all-clear.

Dirty and Damaged Fixtures

Any plumbing fixtures that suffered physical damage due to wind, structural failure or floating or flying debris will likely need to be replaced. But those that are undamaged will still need some TLC in the form of a thorough cleaning with diluted bleach. When it comes to faucets and showerheads, you may need to disassemble them and soak the individual parts in bleach to prevent mold growth.

Broken Pipes in the Home

The risks of flying debris from a hurricane and floating debris from a flood present a double whammy to your home’s pipes. If a pipe is cracked or broken, you may not even be able to identify the problem until after the floodwater recedes and is completely removed from the home. If you notice new puddles after the floodwater is gone, shut the water off at the main valve while you wait for your plumbing inspection.

Broken Pipes Underground

All that standing water and the saturated soil beneath creates a crushing weight. Unfortunately, buried water and waste lines may fail under this load. If you see sinkholes on your property after the water recedes, that’s a possible sign one or more of these lines has collapsed under your lawn. A plumber may need to conduct a camera inspection to confirm.

Foundation Damage

Pipes can break if they’re moved around by a home’s shifting foundation. Foundation damage can occur during a flood if there’s movement in the saturated soil beneath the foundation. This unsteady ground may make the foundation crack, and plumbing pipes are just one type of building material that could be damaged as a result. In these cases, foundation repair must usually be completed before certain pipes can be replaced.

Damage this extensive can feel overwhelming, but there’s no job too big for the dedicated plumbers at your local Rods Away. If you’ve been affected by a hurricane or other flooding and need your plumbing inspected or repaired, call today.

THE BENEFITS OF A COLD SHOWER

Most of us hate the thought of taking a cold shower so much that we’ll call for repairs the moment the water heater starts breaking down. But others do it on purpose for the benefit of their health, skin, hair and energy. Think you can handle a frigid shower first thing tomorrow morning? If so, these are some of the perks that may await you:

Increased Alertness

If you shower in the morning, a couple of minutes under the cold water may wake you up more effectively than a double espresso. It’s not just the shock of the cold that snaps you awake — it’s also the way your body responds to help keep you warm. In cold temperatures, your body will stimulate longer, deeper breaths so you can take in more oxygen, and it will increase your heart rate to assist with blood flow. Under a cold shower, you’re unlikely to feel the warming sensation these responses are designed to create, but you’ll definitely notice the extra spring in your step.

Immune System Boost

Another side effect of the blood circulation boost you’ll get from a cold shower is that your white blood cells will start coursing through your body. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, this little kick to your natural disease-fighting system may help you fight those symptoms even faster. The circulatory workout also benefits your health by giving your heart safe exercise, clearing out your arteries and lowering your blood pressure.

Fat Burning

We’re still not done with all the fringe benefits of your body working hard to keep your warm — it may even help you lose weight. The fuel your body uses to keep you warm is fat, which gets burned up in the process. So if you want to get your metabolism moving, keep the workout going by stepping under the cold water after hitting the gym.

Vibrant Skin and Hair

Hot showers feel great, but they can dry out your skin. Cold showers, on the other hand, may make your skin look better than ever by tightening your pores. If you have oily skin or acne, this could be a game-changing part of your skin care routine. As for your hair, cold water can help flatten out the strands so that they appear shinier, and can promote follicle strength and overall scalp health.

Soothing Muscle Pain

One of the reasons why professional athletes take ice baths after training is because it soothes tired muscles. A cold shower can offer the same benefits, and is especially useful for minimizing the intensity of delayed muscle soreness. Try cold showers after your workouts for a week and see if you can tell the difference.

Cold showers aren’t for everyone, but if you ease into it, you might find that it’s not so hard and that the benefits even outweigh the unpleasantness. Even if you don’t like your showers cold from start to finish, you can get some of the benefits — like tight pores and shiny hair — by simply switching from hot to cold for the last minute or so of your shower.

Of course, if you’re taking an unplanned cold shower, that’s another story. Call up your local Rods Away for maintenance, replacement or emergency repairs for your home’s hot water issues.

The most common house calls

The most common house calls Rods Away take are for the following:

  1. Leaky pipes – These can create massive amounts of damage around the house, but most homeowners do not really want to get into those tight spaces where the pipes are so they always seek the aid of local plumbers.
  2. Dripping Taps – These are easy enough to fix, but most folks do not really have an organized system of remedying the situation and would prefer not to deal with the mess and extra wetness that may ensue.
  3. Clogged toilets – These are nasty problems and no homeowner really wants to deal with these directly.
  4. Running toilets – These waste a lot of water and require the technical knowledge and skills of the pros. Repair has to be carried out in a systematic way and it’s always smartest to have the experts perform the task.
  5. Clogged drains – Ones that cannot be remedied by all sorts of powerful drain liquids and are already flooding up certain parts of the house need special equipment and even repair skills of highly experienced plumbers.
  6. Low water pressure – The root cause of this can only be determined and solved by real plumbers.
  7. Ineffective water heaters – These are such an inconvenience for homes. The problem is that most homeowners usually have limited knowledge about the complete functionality of these implements. Plumbers are called in to determine the reason why a heater doesn’t heat up as expected – and usually, it’s because it is not big enough for the needs of the household. Plumbers can then help improve the functionality of the current system and provide sound advice on usage if homeowners do not want to replace the system with a new one.
  8. Installation of new plumbing implements – This job is completed much faster with the services of plumbers. In an hour (or even less), everything from heaters, to new taps, to additional pipes can be in complete working order.

So, if your home has any of these problems, don’t hesitate to call Rods Away on 01495 687667 anytime, right away; we’ll take care of it easily so you will be inconvenienced no more.

LEAK DETECTION CAN MEAN LOTS OF WORK

You have plumbing pipes running all throughout your home — in your walls, under your floors and even deep under your lawn. A leak can happen just about anywhere, and depending on the location and water flow, it could be extremely difficult to detect.

 

But that doesn’t mean you can just disregard a potential leak. Water damage can be extremely destructive, and that’s not to mention the waste and the additional dollars on your monthly water bill. It’s important for your home, your wallet and your planet to be vigilant against plumbing leaks — but it can involve a lot of work.

 

The Easy Part

 

Gathering evidence that you might have a leak is relatively easy. Many homeowners get the idea something could be wrong when they get a higher-than-average water bill. If your water habits haven’t changed but your water bill spikes, it’s time for some sleuthing.

 

Walk around your home and property looking for visible signs of dampness or water damage. Your nose can aid you here, since leaks will often result in smelly mold or mildew.

 

If you don’t find the leak right away, there’s a simple test. Shut off all the water-using appliances in your home, including things like automatic ice makers. Check your water meter and write down the current reading. For the next few hours, don’t use any water in your home. Check the meter again — if it has changed, you likely have a leak.

 

Find It, Fix It

 

If you’re confident you have a plumbing leak but you still can’t find the source, it’s usually time to call a plumber. A plumbing expert can help you identify parts of your household plumbing system that you might not even know are there. And with the use of cameras on the end of long, flexible plumbing snakes, a plumber can help you see just about every inch of pipe in your system.

 

But if you want to get proactive about plumbing leaks, you might look into water sensors. These devices can be installed in areas where hidden leaks may occur, and the most sophisticated versions can even automatically shut off the water supply when excess moisture is detected.

 

Water sensors can be expensive, so they’re not practical for all applications. If you don’t think it’s worth the expense, you can just make a practice of keeping a keen eye (and nose) for signs of water damage as you move and work throughout your home.

 

Have a leak right now? Call your local plumbing pros without delay.

WATER PRESSURE PROBLEMS ARE WORTH FIXING

When it comes to household water pressure, there’s a pretty generous range for what’s considered not too low, not too high, but “just right”. But there are still all sorts of circumstances that can push your pressure out of that range — and in either direction.

It’s annoying to have a low pressure problem, but the underlying causes could be much worse. And if your problem is high pressure, it could be doing serious damage to your household plumbing. It’s worth taking the time test your water pressure, investigate the causes of your problem and take action to bring your pressure within the desired range.

 

How Low Can You Go?

Low water pressure is often noticed in the shower, where dribbling water makes it difficult to rinse away soap, and at the kitchen sink, where pots of water take agonizingly long to fill. It’s sometimes accompanied by a faint whistling sound coming from your faucets.

Using a water pressure gauge from any hardware store, you can test your water pressure right at your hose spigot. Anything under 30 psi is considered problematically low.

There are several possible causes of low pressure, and a few are truly troubling. A leaky pipe could explain the pressure drop, but that would mean you’re wasting water, running up your bill and possibly enduring damage to your home.

To check for a leak, turn off all water-using appliances and check your water meter reading. Don’t use any water in your home for two hours, then read the meter again. If the reading increased, you have a leak.

The problem could also be caused by a restriction in your pipes, such as mineral buildup from hard water. Buried pipes can sometimes cave in, causing an even worse blockage. A plumber can usually diagnose these issues with a camera inspection.

If your low pressure is due to your local water municipality, there’s still a way to fix it. With a system called a pressure tank, you can automatically raise the pressure of all the water coming from your fixtures. Pressure tanks are usually used with well systems, but they can work anywhere more pressure is needed.

Mounting Pressure

If you feel that water is coming out of your fixtures too hard, or if you regularly hear a loud thumping sound when you turn off a faucet, you may have excessive water pressure. Use a pressure gauge to be sure — anything over 80 psi is too high.

When your pressure is too high, there’s too much strain on your pipes, fittings and fixtures. This may cause no problems for several years, but on a long enough timeline, it will cause pipes to crack and fittings to fail.

Some homes have high water pressure because they’re located right at the bottom of a hill, and water traveling through the municipal pipes has the added pressure of gravity. In other cases, a home may have excessive pressure if it’s located near a large building with major water needs.

Having a plumber install a pressure regulator on your main line is the best way to fight back against high pressure and save your pipes.