Plumbing Blog


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.

‘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.

Schedule Service today!

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