Plumbing Blog


The Do’s and Don’ts of Dealing with Frozen Pipes

Last month, we talked about preparing your pipes for winter and we hope you heeded our advice! If you didn’t and your pipes are suddenly a little worse for wear, we thought we’d offer you some follow-up advice just in case.

Here’s what you need to know if your pipes have frozen at the sight of old man winter:

Do: Thaw the Pipes with a Hair Dryer or Space Heater

The safest way to warm up frozen pipes is to use a hair dryer or space heater. Start by warming up the pipe closest to the faucet and work your way towards the frozen blockage. Keep in mind, though, that you should be careful not to let your hair dryer or space heater come into contact with water to avoid any electrocution hazards.

Don’t: Use a Torch of any Kind to Warm the Pipes

While a torch may seem like a great idea to warm up a frozen pipe, it couldn’t be more dangerous! This kind of open flame presents a very scary fire hazard, so it should never be considered an option. After all, a burst pipe is far less devastating than a home going up in smoke.

Do: Shut off the Water Supply to the Frozen Pipe

When pipes freeze, the ice expands beyond the confines of its enclosure, causing it to crack or burst. The last thing you want to do is to thaw out your pipes only to create a larger mess within your home. Turn off the water supply to your home to prevent further damage.

Don’t: Forget to Call Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service

If you’re not comfortable handling this kind of plumbing disaster on your own, be sure to call the experts at Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service at 208-232-2458. We’ve been serving the Pocatello community for more than 80 years, and we’re looking forward to helping you solve your frozen pipe problems.

Top Three Plumbing Myths

You may not give your plumbing system much thought on a daily basis. As long as the toilets flush and the drains flow, you might figure that everything is fine. Unfortunately, there are a lot of plumbing myths out there that could lead to considerable damage to your plumbing fixtures and pipes. You may have heard of one of these three popular plumbing myths, and we want to keep you informed so that you can take care of and protect your plumbing system before it’s too late.

Learn about the top plumbing myths and what you should do if you notice a problem with your home’s plumbing fixtures or pipes.

Don’t Believe the Product’s Label

Even if a product claims that it is biodegradable, you may want to take those claims with a grain of salt. Trust us when we say that tampons, baby wipes, and sanitary napkins should never be flushed down the toilet. These products take a long time to break down in the sewer system. Paper towels, paper napkins, plastic items, and pills should also never go down the toilet. If your goldfish died, avoid flushing it. Your plumbing system will thank you.

Drain Cleaners and Your Pipes

Your bathroom drain has a hairball in it, so you naturally head to the big-box store and purchase a bottle of Drano or another drain cleaning product, right? You might be surprised to learn that Drano is not the best solution for unclogging a drain. The chemicals are harsh, and they could splash onto your eyes or skin, causing some pretty unpleasant injuries. When you have a severely clogged drain, it is best to a plumber for professional assistance.

Toilet Tablets Are a Good Way to Keep the Bowl Clean

Let’s face it: Few people like to clean the toilet. Those bleach tablets that you drop into the tank can be pretty tempting. Unfortunately, they can destroy the working parts of the toilet within six months. The chemicals wear out the rubber flapper, metal, or plastic chain and other essential parts. It is safer and better for your toilet to use a diluted bleach solution in the bowl. Do your toilet a favor and skip the tank additives.

If you encounter any clogged drains, running toilets, or other troubles, give Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service a call any time of the day or night at 208-232-2458.

Plumbing Tips to Maintain Your Pipes

It’s easy to forget how essential pipes are to your home when you don’t see them. Hidden behind the walls and dug in the ground, they silently do their job of providing water for your needs. However, as with everything in your house, they don’t last forever and need maintenance. Failing to maintain your lines will eventually result in plumbing problems that require costly repair. Don’t let it happen to your home! Here are some tips to take care of your pipes:

Orangeburg Pipes

It’s very important to know the type of sewer pipe used in your home because different materials have different lifespans. If your house was built in the late ‘40s or early ‘70s, there is a chance you have orangeburg pipes. Why does it matter? This type of sewer pipe often presents structural issues after 30 years of use, causing decreased water flows and raising your water bill. Call a plumber to assess the need for a repair or a replacement.    

Tree Roots

While trees are wonderful to filter the air we breathe and greenify our urban centers, they also pose a risk to your pipes. Tree roots grow in the direction of the water. For that reason, even the slightest underground pipe leak can cause tree roots to invade and gradually fill the inside of your pipes. If you’ve been noticing slow household drains, it’s time to call a plumber!

House Renovation

Some homeowners like to make changes to their houses every once in a while. If this sounds like you, here’s a plumbing tip: Replace your pipes when you renovate your kitchen, bathroom, or basement. You’ll probably need to knock down walls, so use that as an opportunity to inspect your lines and replace them. By doing that, you not only prevent plumbing issues but also avoid having to knock the walls down again to reach your pipes.  
We hope these tips will help you keep your lines in good shape. Don’t forget about the importance of preventive maintenance and count on us to take care of all your plumbing needs! Check all our locations on our website or call us at (800) 768-6911.

Best Products for Quality Pipes and Plumbing

When it comes to your plumbing, you don’t want to cut corners. That includes which products you choose! Quality products will ensure that your pipes and plumbing last and require fewer repairs and replacements. Whether you’re planning a DIY project or getting the professionals at Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service to repair or install new plumbing, it’s important to know which brands and materials are best!

Best Materials for Pipes and Fixtures

  • Solid brass fixtures: When searching for fixtures like faucets, solid brass is the way to go because it’s rust resistant and resistant to corrosion. Solid brass bodies last the longest and require very little care overall, especially in comparison to brass-coated products, which can corrode once the coating wears away. Make sure the product says “all-brass” instead of “ZMACK” or “brass coated” or something similar.
  • Stainless steel: Resistant to corrosion, rust, chemical leaching, and other types of contamination, stainless steel is a great option for pipes and fixtures alike. Stainless steel is also low-maintenance and long-lasting, which means it will require fewer repairs over time.
  • PEX piping: PEX tubing is a more flexible and easy to install piping option made of cross-linked polyethylene. It’s more resistant to breakage from freezing than other more rigid materials and can bend and curve around structures without the need for elbows or other transition fittings.
  • Copper piping: Copper is one of the most common piping in plumbing due to its superior corrosion resistance and manageability. However, it requires soldering, and therefore is not an ideal DIY material. A plumber can help!

Avoid zinc, which is the metal beneath most brass or chrome coated fittings, because zinc corrodes when in contact with water. Cheap materials like plastic don’t hold up to wear and tear, and will need repair or replacement much sooner than the quality materials listed above.

Best Plumbing Brands

  • Moen: With over 25 years in the market, Moen is a reliable brand for your plumbing needs and is available at most home improvement stores.
  • Hansgrohe: For those looking for quality products with a modern look, Hansgrohe is the high-end brand of choice.
  • Delta: Delta combines thoughtful features with breathtaking designs and is a great option for those looking for quality at a more affordable price.

For more recommendations on products and materials for your plumbing job, contact Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service online or by calling 208-232-2458. We’ll help you with your plumbing project!

5 Tips To Prevent A Plumbing Disaster While You’re On Vacation

We all need to go on vacation every once in a while and relax a little bit. However, just because you’re away from work doesn’t mean you’re free from your homeowner responsibilities. After all, houses require care and maintenance. Read our tips below to avoid coming home from your vacation to a plumbing disaster.

Check Toilet Tanks

Your toilet tank refills after every flush thanks to the flapper valve. The problem is that this simple mechanism is not foolproof and sometimes it doesn’t close properly, causing water to continuously run in the tank—and raising your water bill. Inspect your toilet tanks before you go on vacation.

Inspect Your Washing Machine

Alongside water heaters, washing machine hoses are one of the most common causes of leaks in homes. Make sure everything is attached and call a plumber if you’ve been noticing puddles in the laundry room. Your washer can leak for several reasons, including overload and a clogged drainpipe.

Examine Outdoor Faucets

Homeowners frequently forget to look after plumbing issues outside their house before they leave on a trip, so make sure to inspect all your outdoor faucets. Faucets frequently leak, and yet they can be easily missed if you’re rushing to leave.

Shut Off The Main Water Supply

If you’re going on vacation and there’s no one left at your home, what’s the point in having water running in your pipes? Just shut off the main water supply and go enjoy your holiday. The main water supply shut-off is usually located in your furnace room. Shutting it off is an effective way to prevent burst pipes and water leaks.

Adjust Your Water Heater

Don’t forget to shut off your water heater if you decide to shut off the main water supply too. Otherwise, it might continue heating and cause damage to the equipment. During winter, however, different rules apply Under extremely cold temperatures, don’t touch the main water supply, and adjust your water heater to 16°C or 60°F to prevent freezing pipes. You can also set your water heater to “vacation mode”, if applicable.

While these preventative measures can help ensure you don’t return home to any problems, it’s a good idea to re-check these areas when you get back from vacation as well.

We hope these tips will help you prevent a serious plumbing problem while you’re on vacation. Remember that you can always count on Roto Rooter to provide you with plumbing services that are second to none. Contact us through our website or call 208-232-2458.

4 Water Heater Tank Maintenance Tips

Could you imagine your life without hot water? The benefits of having hot water available at home go beyond the pleasure of a hot shower: It’s also essential to cook our food, keep boilers running, wash dishes, and perform many other activities. Hot water doesn’t pop up out of nowhere, though. You need to ensure that your water heater is in good shape, so here are some maintenance tips:    

Find Out Your Tank Type

The first thing you need to figure it out is your tank type: Is it natural gas, electric, or propane? Is it a storage tank type or tankless? Then, make sure you write down the model and serial number because you might need that information for warranty purposes. It’s also important to know the gallon capacity and how long you have had your water heater.

Prepare Your Water Heater For Maintenance

It’s essential to take measures to prevent accidents while you maintain your water heater. Turn off the fuel or power supply to the water heater and close the water inlet. Usually, these valves are located above the water heater. Give it some time to allow the water to cool down.

Test The T&P Valve

In case you’re wondering, T&P stands for “temperature and pressure”. This valve is normally found on the upper half of the tank, and it automatically releases the pressure when the water heater tank is overpressurized. To test if it’s working properly, pull the lever, and listen for a gurgling sound—that’s a good sign.

How To Clean Up Sediment

Over time, sediment builds up in the bottom of your tank, so it’s important to drain it occasionally. If you take too long to clean it up, the consequences can range from efficiency loss to the need for a replacement. Turn the drain valve counter-clockwise and use a bucket to flush out a few gallons of water. Repeat the process until the water runs clear.

 

We hope these tips will help. Note that some other maintenance tasks must be performed by a professional plumber. At Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service, we go above and beyond to help our customers! Contact us through our website or give us a call: (208) 232-2458.

Don’t Spring A Leak: Check For Springtime Plumbing Leaks Outside Your Home

While homeowners are well aware of the dangers that indoor water leaks pose to their property, outdoor water leaks can be just as dangerous, and just as expensive—soaring water bills and potential water damage are no way to ring in the new season. As spring rolls in and the gradual thaw begins, it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs of water leaks outside your home that may have developed over the winter.

Check Your Home’s Water Meter

The best way to determine if your home has a water leak is to check your water meter. Ensure that no one in the home is currently using water, locate your water meter, and check whether the leak indicator is moving. Alternately, take a meter reading and abstain from using water for 2 hours. If the reading has changed, you may have a leak.

If you need help locating or reading your home’s water meter, contact a plumbing professional for assistance.

Check Outside Faucets and Garden Hoses

Many modern faucets are “frost proof”, but even these will not completely drain if garden hoses are left attached to the faucet over the winter, leading to frozen or burst pipes that begin to leak during spring. When you first turn on the faucet in the spring, look for water dripping or running out of the faucet, or signs of moisture around the exterior or interior walls near the pipe. Similarly, look for a drip or spray of water at the connection of the hose to the faucet.

Check Your Yard’s Irrigation System

Your yard’s irrigation system should be checked every spring to ensure that is has not been damaged by the freeze/thaw cycle. Look for persistent soggy spots in your lawn, or signs of moisture on the driveway or sidewalks—the farther these spots are away from your home’s main water line, the more likely that they are irrigation system leaks.

If You Find a Leak

When dealing with leaks, time is of the essence if you want to save money and protect your property. Contact a professional plumber as soon as possible. If you are not able to fix the leak immediately, consider shutting off your home’s water at the plumbing shut-off valve while you are at work or during the night to minimize waste.

Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service of Pocatello is the top plumbing repair company in town, and we’re available 24/7 to assist you with all your spring thaw plumbing concerns. Call us at 208-232-2458 to get a leak fixed right the first time.

How Sump Pumps Save Your Basement From Flooding

roto rooter

It’s that time of year again. The weather is finally starting to warm up, the snow is melting, and everyone is generally in a better mood. However, April showers don’t just bring May flowers, they bring flooded basements too!

If you weren’t considering an underground swimming pool reno this spring, a few handy fixes, a sump pump, and a little help from Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service in Pocatello, ID can help keep your basement free and clear of floods.

Why does water get into the basement?

The problem: Water outside is finding its way into your basement via cracks or holes in the foundation.

The fix: Fill any gaps in the foundation with hydraulic cement to seal larger cracks and waterproof your walls with paint-like products to fill up any smaller holes.

The problem: Your yard is sloped slightly towards your home, leading water runoff straight towards your foundation.

The fix: Build up the “crown” of soil around your home so that it slopes away from the foundation, about 6 inches in slope for approximately 10 feet surrounding the home.

The problem: Your gutter system is either poorly installed, clogged, or both.

The fix: Be sure to give your gutters a good cleaning twice per year. If they’re free of debris and still causing you trouble, the water may be draining too close to your home. Consider adding plastic or metal gutter extensions or an underground drain pipe to help alleviate this issue.

How can a sump pump help with basement flooding?

No one wants to anticipate a flooded basement, but sometimes it’s best to hope for the best and plan for the worst. That’s where a sump pump comes in!

Of course, all of the fixes above take some time and elbow grease, so installing a sump pump should be your first line of defense in the meantime. Sump pumps gather any extra water in the basement in a sump pit that is carved into your basement floor. When it reaches a predetermined level, it gets rid of the excess water through a local sewer drain. Instead of letting water pool in your basement, damaging your home and your possessions, a sump pump will help dispose of it automatically!
Ready to prep your basement for the spring downpours? Contact Roto Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service at 208-232-2458 to get your free estimate today!

Do’s and Don’ts of Septic Tank Maintenance

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need regular maintenance. You wouldn’t skip your regular car maintenance or home maintenance (or at least, we hope you wouldn’t!), so it goes without saying that you shouldn’t neglect your septic system, either. Replacing your septic tank can be costly, so it’s beneficial for your system and your wallet to keep it maintained regularly.
A functional septic system consists of a large, underground tank, an inlet for the drain pipe that comes from your house, and an outlet that goes to the field lines buried in your yard. When working properly and well-maintained, it should be odorless. Regular maintenance is not complicated, and can extend the life of your system.

septic-system-diagram

Here are some do’s and don’t of septic tank maintenance.

Do: Protect the Parts

Your system only works as well as its individual parts. Make sure you know where all the components of your system are located so you don’t accidentally ruin or damage them. Keep trees away so their roots can’t compromise the system.

Do: Divert Rainwater

If your drainfield is waterlogged from rain, it can’t absorb and neutralize liquid waste. Plan your landscaping, gutters, and drains accordingly.

Do: Perform Regular Maintenance

Routine maintenance will extend the life of your system. Solids should be pumped out of the tank every 2-3 years, depending on the size of your family. We recommend adding Roto Rooter Septic Tank Treatment every 6 months between pumping’s. Hire a septic tank service professional for all necessary inspections and repairs. Before the truck arrives, it’s more efficient to ensure that the lid septic tank lid that is at least 24 inches in diameter is accessible. Keep records of each service.

Do: Install an Effluent Filter

Your filter will prevent solids from entering into your leachfield. Filters should be cleaned or replaced during each service.

Don’t: Drive Over your Drain Field

Never, ever drive over your drainfield: the weight of your vehicle can crack the pipes.

Don’t: Overload the Septic System

Conserve your water usage so you don’t overfill your tank. Do small loads of laundry and wait until the dishwasher is full to run it. Consider installing a low flow toilet.

Don’t: Dump or Flush Irresponsibly

Anything that won’t decompose doesn’t belong in your septic tank. Avoid plugging your system with cooking fats, paper towels, tissues, diapers, cat litter, coffee grounds, etc. Your septic tank is not a garbage disposal, and these items will cause problems in a shorter time than you may think.

Don’t: Use Chemicals in Excess

Bleachers, drain cleaners, and detergents are all okay in moderation, but in excess they can stop the bacterial action in the septic tank. Stronger chemicals such as paint, paint thinners, floor cleaners, motor products, and pesticides should be avoided.

At Roto Rooter we are happy to offer residential and commercial septic system services. Schedule a service online or by calling 208-232-2458. We offer free estimates!

3 Smart Ways To Fix A Stinky Sink

RotoRooter

Walking into the bathroom or kitchen and being hit by a bad odor is not uncommon, but if the smell lingers beyond a normal amount of time, it’s time to locate the source of the smell. If the smell is undeniably coming from your sink, the next step is to determine the cause of the odor. There are a few reasons why your drain could be emitting smells. The first and simplest cause is a clogged drain. Secondly, gunk from food, hair, or makeup items could be stuck to the lining of your drain. Lastly—and most dangerously—is that the drain trap has dried out, emitting harmful sewage odor into your home.

If The Drain Doesn’t Drain, You’ve Got A (Smelly) Clog

The easiest solution to your problem is to determine whether or not your drain is clogged. Start by pouring water down the drain. If the water sits at the bottom of the sink or drains too slowly, you have a clog issue. You can fix this with a simple homemade solution or call  us. We often advise not to use Drano or add bleach to the mix.  

No Clog In Sight, But The Smell Lingers On

If your drain still smells, even though the water flow has improved, you probably have excessive debris attached to the lining of your drain. The first—and easiest—step you should take is to pour boiling water down the drain. If you previously used Drano, that plus the hot water should have done the trick. Alternatively (but never together), pouring bleach alone, or a homemade concoction of lemon juice and baking soda can help to sanitize and freshen a nasty drain. This is especially true if the smell is coming from your kitchen garbage disposal. Remember though, that different chemicals can cause a dangerous reaction when used together.

It’s All In The Drain

If you’ve cleaned, unclogged, and/or bleached your drain, but odors continue to flow up from a sink, the issue could involve the drain trap. Each drain (including your toilet) has a trap that keeps water in the pipe in order to keep sewage gases from leaking into your home. If the smell you keep finding closely resembles a sewer, it’s possible that the trap has dried out. In other words, there’s no more water sitting in the P-trap (the part of the pipe that looks like half an ‘s’) and nothing to trap out the gases. Lifehacker shares some tips to help you determine whether this is the cause, and some solutions on how to fix it.
Finally, if you’re still not sure what’s causing the smell, or don’t feel comfortable tackling the problem on your own, give Roto-Rooter a call at 208-232-2458 for a free estimate.

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