Plumbing Blog

‘Tis the Season…For Plumbing Awareness

The holidays are upon us and there are a million little things to do, but calling a plumber in the middle of your family dinner shouldn’t have to be one of them. Of course, mishaps happen at any time, but with the influx of visitors and cooking and cleaning and shopping and planning, plumbing usually isn’t something you’ll be thinking about until it’s too late. Luckily, there are a few smart ways to ensure your holidays aren’t ruined by overflowing toilets or clogged drains. Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do. There’s a long list here, but we’ll begin with the basics.

Should I Flush This?

The toilet. We all know what it’s for, and the amazing convenience of it, but many of us treat it like a trash can instead of the marvel of modern technology that it is. Products like paper towel and tissues aren’t built to break down in water like toilet paper and can clog not only your toilet, but plumbing and sewers down the line. Dental floss, women’s sanitary products, human hair, and anything made of cotton can also cause some serious back-ups. Cat litter is also a major culprit when it comes to plumbing problems, since not only is the cat waste dried and hard, but the litter itself can turn into a clay-like sludge in your pipes.

Should I Put This Down the Disposal?

Have a garbage disposal in your house? It may seem like it can take anything organic that you can throw at it; the whirring of those stainless steel blades seem to obliterate anything unfortunate enough to come into contact with them. But again, there are limits to what this convenient technology can handle; fibrous foods like onion skins, celery, asparagus, and lettuce, as well as eggshell membranes, can wrap around a garbage disposal’s blades, causing jams. Coffee grounds, grease, pasta and rice also cause clogs, while bones, seeds, fruit pits, and apple cores are all too hard for the blades to breakdown. Make sure to always check your disposal for silverware and other items that can seriously damage the blades, and of course, shut it off before attempting to clear it.

Holiday Horror Prevention

So what can you do when even your best efforts are thwarted and you get that knock on your bedroom door from a horrified houseguest in the middle of the night? For plugged up toilets, plungers can help of course. If you’re finding your sinks or garbage disposal are plugged, hot water may help clear blockages created by grease and other substances. Another way to help your garbage disposal is to always run hot water whenever it’s in use, to move waste through the pipes easily and avoid blockages to begin with.
Still having problems? Stop by and see us at Roto Rooter for Pipe Shield, a great product that helps break down household grease, soap, fat, and detergents. If a clog is too stubborn, we know of some skilled professionals who would be happy to help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Top Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes This Winter

It is officially October, which means Old Man Winter is sharpening his talons, getting ready to wreak havoc on your plumbing! You know what we’re talking about: frozen pipes, bursting water lines, and dreaded frosted outdoor faucets. With a little knowledge and some preventative tips from the Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service pros, you and your plumbing can successfully make it through winter unscathed.

When and Why Pipes Freeze

Studies show that the onset of pipe freezing begins when the outside temperature reaches 20° F, although under the right conditions, it can happen at even warmer temperatures. When water in your pipes freezes, it expands – sometimes so much that it causes your pipes to burst. The resulting loss of running water is a huge inconvenience. Not only that, but bursting pipes can also cause serious damage to your property. In order to prevent freezing pipes, focus your efforts on the right ones using the right strategies.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Try the following tactics to keep the chill out this winter:

  • Learn the layout of your home. With the most exposure to the cold, pipes located along exterior walls and in attics and basements are the ones to watch for when the temperature drops.
  • Make sure your home, especially the attic, basement, or crawl spaces, are properly insulated.
  • Wrap any un-insulated pipes in a blanket of foam available from a home hardware store. Focus on the most vulnerable pipes for the most bang for your buck. For added protection, Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service can install heat tape on the pipes to keep them warm and prevent freezing.
  • In extreme cold, unless you have a septic tank, leave one faucet dripping cold water to keep the water running and thus less likely to freeze. Additionally, inspect for any leaks and repairs necessary before the freezing weather hits to protect your plumbing network.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Try using a fan to blow warm air into connected crawl spaces to raise the temperature of nearby pipes.
  • Don’t forget about the outdoor faucets! Remove any and all hoses before the temperature drops to freezing, inspect for leaks, and drain as much water as possible from the faucet. Lastly, insulate the outdoor faucet with a hose bib cover to prevent it from freezing.

So, You Have a Frozen Pipe

A pipe may be frozen if:

  • The temperature is right. (Start taking precautions once the temperature falls to 32° F or lower.)
  • There is frost on the pipe.
  • You have no running water.
  • You smell strange odors from your drain or pipes, which could be a sign of a blockage.

If you do in fact have a frozen pipe, time is of the essence! Contact your Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service specialists who are capable of restoring the unwanted effects of dreaded Old Man Winter.

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