3 EASY FIXES FOR A CLOGGED TOILET

Is your toilet clogged? If so, this is one plumbing repair you may be able to tackle yourself. While some more serious clogs require the intervention of a professional plumber, there are some things you can try before you pick up the phone.

  1. Reach for a plungerEvery home should be equipped with at least one plunger. This necessary household item is your first line of defense against a clogged toilet, and you don’t want to wait to buy one until dirty water is flooding your bathroom.

    Before using the plunger, take the lid off your toilet tank and push the flapper down to prevent additional water from entering the bowl. Then start plunging and see if this eliminates the problem. If nothing happens the first few times you pump the plunger, don’t be discouraged — it can take some elbow grease and vigorous pumping to get the job done.

  2. Grab a snakeIf a plunger doesn’t do the trick, your next best option is to snake the drain. A drain snake is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from most hardware stores. Put the snake into the toilet bowl and feed it carefully into the pipe. Once it reaches the clog, you’ll feel a slight increase in resistance. At this point, turn the snake clockwise to allow the tip to break up the clog.
  3. Call a plumberIf neither of these tactics work, it may be time to leave it to a professional. Sometimes a clog may not merely be built-up debris in your toilet, but an object dropped in by a child or knocked in by a clumsy house guest. You’re better off having a professional plumber clear the pipe and make any necessary repairs rather than attempting it yourself and causing additional damage. Consider calling a plumber at least once a year to ensure not only that your toilet’s working properly, but that all the pipes in your bathroom are free of leaks and clogs.

Need some professional guidance?

Your local Rods Away plumbers are always here to help. Give us a call and we’ll clear the clog and get your toilet back in working order.

6 WAYS TO FIND HIDDEN WATER LEAKS

Early detection of a water leak can save you money and avert potential disaster. Here are some signs that you may have a leak and should consider contacting a plumber.

  1. Check your water meter
    One of the best ways to tell if you have a leak in some part of your plumbing is to check the water meter. To do this, you’ll first have to turn off all the water in your home. Shut off all faucets, and make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are not running. Next, watch the meter and see if it begins to  change. If it does, you likely have a fast-moving leak. If the meter doesn’t change immediately, wait two hours and check it again. If it has changed despite all the water being off, you may be dealing with a slower leak. The leak could be anywhere after the meter, or even underground. Remember that all piping after the meter is a homeowner’s responsibility.
  2. Look at your usage
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends checking your winter water usage to find out if a leak is occurring somewhere in your home. If a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons of water per month, there’s probably have a serious leak problem somewhere in your plumbing system.
  3. Monitor your bill
    If your bill is rising consistently but your water use habits haven’t changed, a leak may be to blame. Gather some bills from the past few months and compare them to see if there’s a steady increase. Your water bill should remain within the same range month to month. Remember that some of your pipes may be under ground. You may never detect leaks in this part of your system, but you will always pay for them. It’s best to have a professional plumber make a thorough check of all the pipes.  A warm spot on the floor ( with under slab piping) or the sound of water running needs prompt, professional attention.
  4. Grab some food coloring
    Toilets can account for up to 30 percent of your water use, so you should  check to ensure they’re running properly. To test for leaks, add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in your bowl, then you have a leak allowing water to flow from the tank to your drain without ever flushing the bowl.
  5. Check exterior usage
    Leaks don’t just happen inside the home — they occur outside as well. Check your outside spigots by attaching a garden hose; if water seeps through the connection while the hose is running, replace the rubber hose gasket and check to see all connections are tight. Consider calling a professional once a year to check your irrigation system if you have one. A system with even a small leak could be wasting 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  6. Use common senseMake a practice of regularly checking in the back of cabinets and under basins for any signs of mold or foul smells that might indicate a leak: prompt attention could save you thousands in repairs. Consider having a professional plumber make an annual inspection of your home to check for leaks or potential problems.

    Be especially vigilant if your home is over 25 years old; your plumbing system may be on the declining side of its life expectancy.  Inspect all accessible connections at the water heater, pumps, washing machine hoses and valves for oxidation or discoloration – clear signs of a slow leak.

    If you suspect a leak anywhere in your plumbing system, call in a professional to make a repair as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it gets worse and you end up with a real mess on your hands!

Need some professional guidance?

Your local Rods Away plumbers are always here to help. Give us a call and we’ll track the leak down for you and make any necessary repairs.

Why is My Toilet Running?

After a toilet is flushed, water will refill within the tank and then stop once it reaches a certain level. However, when parts of the toilet are broken or malfunctioning, water will continue to run (annoying, we know). If you find that one of your toilets is running with no plans of stopping, there are things you should be checking that will usually solve this plumbing problem.

toilet-running

Adjust the Water Level

The tank’s water level is decided by the height of the adjustable float piece. When the float is at too low of a height, the flush will be weak and might not flush all of the waste. However, when the float is set too high, water will constantly pour into the overflow tube and the fill valve won’t shut itself off. Adjust the height of the float accordingly to make sure the water level in the overflow tube is at the water level mark. This water level mark is equivalent to an inch below the critical level mark on the fill valve.

Fix the Flapper Chain

Attached to the flapper is a chain that needs to be a specific length in order for it to open and close during a flush. A flapper chain that’s too long will prevent the flapper from fully opening, shortening the flush. On the other hand, a flapper chain that’s too short will prevent the flapper from fully closing, allowing water to continuously leak into the bowl. Inspect your current chain and make sure it’s in good condition and that it has a small amount of slack when closed. If it doesn’t, adjust the chain accordingly or replace it altogether.

Inspect the Flapper

Each piece inside of the toilet tank should be inspected when the water continuously runs, especially the flapper. When the flapper is worn out or cracked, the result will be the same as if the flapper chain was too short. If there’s any damage associated with the flapper, head to the hardware store and pick up a replacement. You should turn off the water leading to the toilet and bring the flapper to the store to get as close of a match as you can. Once you install the new flapper, make sure it creates a complete seal by giving it a test flush.

A toilet that is constantly running and making noise isn’t just a nuisance — it’s costing you money with each and every water bill your receive. If you can’t seem to stop the water from running and you’re in need of toilet repair, contact the professional plumbers at Rods Away. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (01495) 687667.

How To Pick The Perfect Plunger

The secret to using a plunger is very simple: make sure you’re using the right one!  While most homeowners typically just have one plunger in their home, they actually vary structurally and each has a unique type of seal it makes.  Who knew a plunger could be so complex?  Well, we did, but we’re here to educate you on the different types of plungers and where they do their best work!  

The Cup Plunger a.k.a “Sink Saver”

cupplunger

The cup plunger is what most homeowners consider a “basic plunger,” but this type actually works best when it comes to a clogged kitchen sink or bathroom sink. Additionally, this type of plunger works well for bathtub clogs as well. The reason why a cup plunger doesn’t work well for unclogging a toilet is the seal it creates around the drain.

The Flange Plunger a.k.a Team Toilet

Flange-Plunger

The flange plunger is on “Team Toilet” because it’s your best bet when it comes to unclogging your toilet.  The extra flap of rubber around the cup of the plunger allows a complete seal to be created around the toilet’s opening.  While clogged toilets are very common, using a plunger may not result in a long-term fix.  If you consistently have a clogged toilet, call us today or schedule an appointment online!

The Accordion Plunger (not to be confused with the musical instrument)

accordian-style-plunger

The accordion plunger can also be used for clearing toilet clogs, but is less common and a bit more difficult to use.  Additionally, this type of plunger is made out of plastic, so you could run the risk of scratching the toilet bowl.

 

Clogged drains and clogged toilets can cause homeowners headaches.   While it’s always a good idea to keep a plunger in your home, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will provide you with a long-term fix.  To ensure your drains will run smoothly, give us a call or schedule an appointment online for any drain cleaning service.  We’re here to provide you with Same Day Service, 7 Days a Week!

Are Flushable Wipes Really Safe to Flush?

Are Flushable Wipes Really Safe to Flush?

Do you remember the first time you used a wet wipe instead of toilet paper? At first, you weren’t sure how to feel about it, but after a few more trips to the bathroom — you were hooked! While they might do a great job with the cleanup, they aren’t exactly the hero we thought they were when we first bought them. The packaging of these wipes do say “flushable,” but are they really safe to flush?

The Breakdown

Wet wipes are marketed as “flushable” and “septic-safe,” so there should be no problem with flushing them down the toilet, right? Wrong! Even though these wipes do eventually break down, they take a longer amount of time to do so compared to toilet paper. Since the breakdown of wet wipes aren’t as rapid, clogged pipes and blockages occur more frequently. Putting your home’s plumbing at risk for serious clogs translates to hefty plumbing bills for you.

Ragging

After these so called “flushable” wipes are flushed, they can get caught up with other items that are currently in your sewer line. Thick toilet paper, paper towels, cotton swabs, dental floss, sanitary pads, and toilet cleaning pads are all commonly flushed items that contribute to clogs and backups. The combination of these items with wet wipes will create a mess of a blockage known as “ragging.” When this happens to you, break out your cell phone and start your search to find a plumber.

What to Do?

Manufacturers provide test results stating that flushable wipes are deemed safe to flush — however, there is evidence that supports the flushing of these wipes can increase the risk of clogged sewer lines and require pumping of septic tanks more often. Even though wipes might feel like the greatest invention since sliced bread, you should opt out of using them. Toilet paper is meant to be the ONLY thing flushed — other than “the obvious.”

Just because someone says something, doesn’t always make it true. That same principle applies to your beloved “flushable” bathroom wipes and their deceptive packaging. When your home is experiencing frequent clogs (whether you use wet wipes or not), there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Jonie @ Rods Away is always ready for your call, whether the clog is big or if it’s small! To learn more or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (01495) 87667.

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.