Do You Know How Your Toilet Works?

Toilets are an important part of residential and commercial plumbing system. Although you may not want to think about the function of the toilet in your home, understanding how a toilet works can help you troubleshoot small problems before they turn into expensive repairs.

Toilet operation is controlled by three basic systems, the flush mechanism, the refill mechanism, and the bowl siphon. It’s important that each system is working well to make sure toilet operation isn’t interrupted, even during times of heavy usage.

Bowl Siphon

This is the pipe at the bottom of the bowl. The bowl siphon accepts the water and waste when the toilet is flushed providing a pathway to the sewage system. The bowl siphon’s S-shaped curve makes it easily identifiable, but it also service a more important purchase. The siphon’s S-shape keeps sewer gasses from seeping out of the sewer or septic system and into the home. Sewer gasses are extremely toxic and can cause illness or explosions.

The secondary job of the siphon is to keep the toilet from overflowing. It does this by accepting excess water in the sewage pipe instead of pushing the water to the top of the bowl.

Flush Mechanism

The flush mechanism consists of three parts, the flush valve, the handle, and the tank. Each time the toilet is flushed, a chain is pulled inside the tank. The chain lifts the flush valve (the stopper) away from the drain hole so that clean water can flow back into the toilet bowl. Flush mechanisms that are working correctly will release the flush valve after a few seconds, covering the hole so that the water will not overfill the bowl.

Refill Mechanism

The refill mechanism and flush mechanism are buddies. They work closely together to make sure the toilet automatically refills. If the refill mechanism is damaged, the metal rod inside the tank connected to the filler valve may not function correctly. Water, which normally would have stopped rising inside the tank, would continue to rise and overflow from the tank. Correctly functioning refill mechanisms work with the filler mechanism so the tank water and bowl water fill simultaneously without overflowing.


Your home’s toilet(s) rely on gravity to work. When you press the flush handle, gravity pulls water down into and through the bowl siphon, but when the flush valve hits the bottom of the tank the water will stop flowing.
The toilet is a relatively simple mechanism. But, when it clogs or stops working, it can cause quite a bit of panic and frustration. Toilets work best when they are properly maintained. Regular drain cleaning can keep large blockages from forming and paying close attention to what is flushed can prevent unexpected stoppages.

If you do experience a clog, use a toilet plunger (one with a flange) to try and dislodge the clog. Do not use chemical drain cleaners. Although there are toilet cleaners on the market, the chemicals in these cleaners can cause damage to the toilet and the water pipes.

Call a Rooter Hero Plumbing technician to help you resolve clogs that won’t respond to normal plunging.

How Your Hard Water Is Affecting Your Plumbing

The quality of the water at your house has a direct effect on energy costs. Did you know that some estimates suggest that just one-eighth of an inch hard water can lead 33% rise in energy consumption?

Why does hard water have such a drastic effect on your energy bills? Hard water contains calcium and magnesium. When these two elements mix together in your water pipes or plumbing appliances like a water heater, limescale forms. Limescale requires more energy to heat than regular, clear water.

Let’s take a moment to examine exactly how limescale affects the plumbing in your home.

Water Pipes

Hard water restricts water flow. If you have PVC or copper piping, the problem may not be as bad. However, homes with steel piping are highly susceptible to water flow interruption. The result is low water pressure throughout the house. When hard water sits inside the pipes for long periods of time, the pipe can break down and pipe replacement may be necessary.

Replacing water pipes is not a cheap repair. It can cost thousands of dollars depending on the location of the pipe, the amount of pipe to be replaced, the replacement materials, and the labor costs associated with the installation.


Water that is trapped in faucets, valves, shower heads, and plugs will cause limescale buildup to occur at a faster rate. Many times fixtures will clog even though the pipes to the fixtures are free of limescale. A slow dripping faucet may be a sign of limescale buildup. Not only is the dripping faucet costing you money in water costs, the hard water can stain the sink’s bowl and the faucet’s rubber washers may deteriorate reducing the faucet’s water tightness.


Valves are found on all types of appliances from washing machines and dishwashers to ice-makers and even built-in coffee makers. All it takes is a small amount of limescale to form beneath the valves for problems to ensure. Damage to appliances can be costly to repair and, in some cases, replacement may be the only option.

Water Heaters

Hard water is especially brutal on water heaters. It doesn’t take much for mineral deposits to form inside a heater’s tank and damage its heating elements. Limescale forms a barrier making it harder for the elements to heat the water and this adversely affects the unit’s energy efficiency. Hard water also shortens the heater’s lifespan.

Hard Water Prevention

Hard water problems should be dealt with swiftly. While you may not be able to control the hard water coming into your home’s water pipes, there are ways to stop the flow of hard water through your home. Installing a whole-house filtration system or purchasing a water softener are two ways to treat hard water and stop limescale from ruining your plumbing system.

Filtration and softening systems vary in price and efficiency. While some water softeners may only cost $400, whole-house filtration systems can cost as much as a couple of thousand dollars to install. While this may seem like a large expense, keep in mind that you’ll be saving money in the long run. You’ll have fewer plumbing repairs for damaged fixtures. You’ll minimize the threat of premature water heater failure and pipe replacement.

The first step toward improving your water quality is calling for water testing. Give Rooter Hero Plumbing a call and we’ll work with you to bring softer water into your home for a better experience.

Diagnosing Common Residential Water Heater Issues

An improperly working water heater can make it difficult for you to live comfortably in your home. It makes it harder bathe, wash dishes, and even do laundry. When you’re faced with a broken water heater, you have no other option than to face the situation head on. The first step toward fixing the heater is pinpointing the problem so repairs can be made quicker.

Some water heater problems are easier to identify than others. This quick guide will go through the most common reasons water heaters stop working. At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we always advocate for professional help, but if you want to troubleshoot before calling a plumber, it’s important that you are safe. Before troubleshooting, make sure you do the following:

  • Electric water heaters – cut power by turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker box.
  • Gas water heaters – Adjust the gas pilot control valve so that it is at the pilot setting.
  • Turn off the water supply.

Not Enough Hot Water

Are you getting hot water, but not enough of it? This may be a thermostat problem. Sometimes thermostats are set too low and the water doesn’t heat to a comfortable temperature.

The heater may have a buildup of sediment. When was the last time you flushed or drained the heater’s tank? Sediment can block the burners and make it difficult for the water to heat properly.

If your tank has been recently flushed, check the dip tube. When a dip tube is damaged, it can cause the hot and cold water to mix. The result is lukewarm water.

No Hot Water at All

If you have a gas heater, the pilot light may have burned out and may need to be relit. Be careful performing this task and make sure you read the instructions in the owner manual that came with the unit. You can find owner manuals online for most major brands if you’ve misplaced yours.

Other problems that gas heaters are known for developing include the following:

  • Poor gas pressure
  • Damaged thermocouple
  • Bad gas pilot
  • Broken gas pilot control valve

Popping Sounds

When you’re taking a shower, do you hear a popping or slapping sound coming from your water heater? This sound can be puzzling and disconcerting. Usually, it is the direct result of too much sediment in the water heater’s tank. Tanks should be flushed every 12 months for optimal performance. If you have hard water, you may need to flush your tank at smaller intervals. You can find instructions online to flush your tank, but we recommend having a licensed plumber do the job to make sure it is done correctly.

Leaky Tanks

Water around the base of the water heater means that water is seeping from the tank. There are a few reasons this may be happening such as a leaky pipe or relief valve. Don’t ignore water leaking from your tank.  If you can see the water leaking from the valve, you can try to tighten it. The best course of action is to call a plumber. There may be a faulty heating element of the tank may be damaged. Rusted tanks can lead to corrosion, which can lead to holes. You need to call a professional right away to access the damage.

Rooter Hero Plumbing is the leading 24-hour plumbing service throughout metropolitan areas in Arizona, Texas, and Southern California. If you suspect there is a problem with your heater, call us right away and we’ll send a highly-trained plumber to your home today!

How to Choose the Right Plunger for Maximum Results

If you thought all plungers were the same, we’re here to open your eyes to a whole new world of bathroom plumbing solutions. That plunger in your bathroom discreetly hidden behind the toilet may work well for a clogged bowl, but if you need to use it to unclog a bathtub drain or kitchen sink you may be out of luck.

The size and shape of a plunger’s compression container – the suction cup – and the material it is constructed from matters a great deal when attempting to unclog drains. Armed with the correct plunger, you’ll have better success and a lot less frustration.

Sink Plunger

A standard sink plunger is constructed with a bell-shaped compression container made of rubber. The suction cup is attached to a plastic or wooden handle. The design of a sink plunger is the same across the board with the only exception being the suction cup size. This style of plunger works great to unclog a tub or sink because it suctions to a flat surface and can create a powerful enough vacuum to remove the clog. However, if you tried using this kind of plunger for a clogged toilet, you won’t have as good of results.

Best Plunger for Toilets

It’s easy to confuse a sink plunger for a toilet plunger because they look very similar. However, there is one difference. Toilet plungers have a pliable rubber flap that folds out from the main compression container. This seemingly useless piece of rubber is quite important. Without it, it’s virtually impossible to create a tight vacuum on the curved toilet opening.

Another option for dislodging clogs from a toilet is an accordion plunger. This plunger gets its name because of the ribbed design of the suction cup. The accordion plunger suction cup has a smaller compression container and it is made of hard plastic. While highly effective at removing clogs, it can be hard to handle.

Buying a Plunger

Plungers, no matter how clean they may be, can leave a bad impression. Having one plunger is a necessity, but why would you want to have multiple plungers in your home to treat different problems? When purchasing a plunger, we suggest sticking with a regular toilet plunger for a couple of reasons.

  1. Toilets clog more often than sinks or bathtubs. Sometimes you can remove the drain from the sink or bathtub to pull out the obstruction. Most sink and bathtub clogs are just ginormous hairballs. Do you really want to stick your hand down the toilet?
  2. Toilet plungers have the extra flap to make it easier to remove clogs on curved surfaces, but they are also great on flat surfaces.

If you only buy one type of plunger, the pros at Rooter Hero Plumbing suggest you stick with the traditional toilet plunger.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that plungers work well when clogs are small in nature and contain organic material that can be broken up during the plunging process. Toys, hardened soap, or other solid objects causing the blockage should not be plunged. In fact, plunging can actually make the problem worse. These kinds of obstructions need professional attention. Call a local plumber to help you fix the problem.

Setting the Record Straight – 5 Plumbing Myths

Homeowners can save a lot of money and feel more in control of their home’s plumbing by learning how to maintain it. There are a lot of old wives’ tales out there, but not all of them are safe for your system. Here are five myths about residential plumbing that you’ll want to steer clear of to properly safeguard your pipes and fixtures.

Myth #1 – Lemons Clean a Disposal

Putting lemons in the garbage disposal in small chunks will not harm the appliance. It will certainly make it smell better, but that’s about it. If you’re using lemons as a natural, chemical-free way to clean the appliance, let us give you a better option.

Disinfecting your disposal is a good idea. It sees a lot of bacteria. The best way to do this is to mix together a cleaning solution of warm water and mild soap. Spray the appliance with the solution and then use a scrub brush to clean the disposal’s blades. Make sure you turn the power off to the disposal before doing this to avoid injury.

Myth #2 – Run Water while Operating the Garbage Disposal to Move Material through the Pipes

This is a myth that is partly true, but mostly misleading. Running the water while running the disposal and for a short time after the appliance is turned off keeps small particles moving through the blades and into the water pipe. The misleading part of this advice is that you have to be careful of what you dispose of in the first place.

Unfortunately, many homeowners find out very quickly that running tap water while grinding up the wrong waste can still lead to jams and other problems. A disposal is not meant to be used as a trash compactor. Certain things like egg shells, pasta, banana peels, and hard or thick food waste cannot be grinded in the disposal no matter how much water runs through the disposal during operation.

Myth #3 – Water Is Flowing through the Drains, So I Don’t Have to Worry about Clogs

Not true! If you’ve experienced stubborn clogs in the past and only treated the symptoms and not the actual problem, you may be able to use your drains without incident for a while. However, if there are still blockages inside of the pipes that weren’t properly taken care of, you’ll soon find it difficult to use your sink, toilet, or bathtub/shower.

Treating clogs with powerful, professional drain cleaning right away is the best way to ensure that the problem is completely eradicated. Services like Rooter Hero Plumbing recommend regular drain cleaning and video camera inspections to take care of small clogs before they become major obstructions.

Myth #4- You Can Clean Your Fixtures with Any Solution

Plumbing fixtures require specific cleaning habits depending on the fixture. For example, brass plumbing fixtures fare better when cleaned using gentle, mild solutions. Toilets, on the other hand, need to be sanitized and are built tough. Use powerful disinfectants to kill germs. One-size-fits-all cleaning solutions just don’t cut it when taking care of plumbing fixtures.

Myth #5 – I Don’t Have to Maintain My Plumbing System

If you think your plumbing system was designed to take care of itself, you may be in for a rude awakening. While water pipes, drains, and other components of residential systems are designed to work well for many years, that still doesn’t mean they don’t require a little TLC.  Sewer lines should be inspected to make sure tree roots aren’t growing into the line. Water heaters need to be flushed regularly to get rid of sediment and even faucets, sinks, and toilets need attention to keep tough clogs away.

Don’t let old wives’ tales keep you from properly caring for your plumbing system. For more tips, give your friendly plumber a call today!

Are Your Basic Commercial Infrastructure Needs being Met?

Commercial properties require working plumbing components to keep their businesses running. If there is a part of the plumbing infrastructure that is weak, this can affect the entire system. Damaged gas lines, clogged water pipes, or backflow issues need to be addressed immediately by industry professionals who have access to the latest technology.

Natural Gas Line

The gas lines that run through your building are designed to work well under the pressure of daily use. Although these lines are built tough, that doesn’t mean that problems won’t arise. Gas leaks, loss of pressure, and other problems require immediate attention.

A gas leak can fires, explosions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other disastrous consequences. Gas appliances and piping that is poorly fitted or has cracks can cause a gas leak. Businesses can protect their employees, tenants, customers, and actual structure by having their system regularly inspected by a certified plumber.

Water Lines

Commercial water lines are subjected to an enormous amount of usage every day. From flushing toilets to using the sinks, clogs form quickly and water pipes can spring leaks or burst.

If you’re customers or employees are unable to use the facilities without problems at every turn your plumbing needs are not being met. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure the restrooms are in acceptable working order.

One way to do this is to work with a licensed plumber to help you with basic drain cleaning. At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we use our Scour Jet service to thoroughly clean the inside of water pipes, scrubbing away dirt and grime that easily form into tough clogs.

Pipes and drains clog from usage, but they also can develop problems if they are not installed correctly. If you’re continuously dealing with the same drainage issues even after thorough drain cleaning, have a plumber thread a video camera through the pipes to check for problems consistent with incorrect installation.

Waste Water and Backflow Prevention

Backflow prevention is something that all commercial property owners need to be concerned about. All commercial buildings have a waste water collection system in place to make sure sewage doesn’t mix with the potable water supply. Municipalities across the country require commercial properties to submit proof, annually, that their backflow prevention system is working correctly.

Backflow certification companies will perform the necessary checks and submit the paperwork on your behalf, but what happens if there is a problem? Rooter Hero Plumbing meets the needs of its customers by offering both backflow prevention services and repair services. All your needs are taken care of in one place.

Working with a professional commercial plumbing service is the best way to make sure that your basic commercial infrastructure needs are being met. When you have a working plumbing system, your production increases, your building’s occupants are happy, and you don’t have to worry about raw sewage seeping into your building.

Call Rooter Hero Plumbing today to learn more about our commercial plumbing services for businesses in Arizona, California, and Texas.

Types of Water Leaks and the Damage they Cause

Waters leaks in your home or place of business can cause structural problems and other costly damage. If you have a water, you must deal with the problem now before it turns into a bigger issue.

Water leaks fall into one of two categories: hidden leaks and visible leaks. Each one has its challenges and need prompt attention for the best results.

Visible Leaks

Rooter Hero Plumbing technicians deal with these kinds of leaks on a daily basis and know how to remedy the problem right away. Some of the most common visible leaks we repair include bathtub leaks, leaky faucets, dripping showerheads, and leaky/running toilets.

Some of these visible leaks can easily be repaired with a quick silicone seal; whereas others may require parts of the bathtub, shower, sink, or toilet to be replaced. Sometimes replacement is the best way to handle this situation, so you don’t have the same problem reappear weeks later. Why spend your money twice fixing the same problem?

Hidden Leaks

These leaks tend to be the scariest for our customers because, well, they can’t see the source of the leak. Usually, when we get the call for a hidden leak, extensive damage has already occurred to the piping, the walls, ceiling, or slab that is covering the pipe. At this point, not only do homeowners incur the cost to fix the broken pipe but also the damage that has occurred to flooring, drywall, and even furniture and other belongings.

One misconception is that unlike visible leaks there are no symptoms that a hidden leak exists until the water breaks through the slab’s surface or the walls. We’re here to tell you that just isn’t true. Hidden leaks, especially slab leaks, do provide clues. Homeowners that know what to be on the lookout for can often spot these clues early on and save money by attending to the problem immediately.

Here are just a few clues that you may have a hidden leak in your home:

  • Warm spots beneath your feet. If it suddenly feels like you’ve had heated flooring installed, call a plumber.
  • Mold growth or mildew smells. Musky, damp odors in a home are not normal. Mold growth is not normal either. These are indicators that moisture exists in the house. It could quite possibly be a hidden leak.
  • Recent spikes in water bills. Water bills that rise suddenly even though you haven’t increased your usage can be a strong sign that water is leaking someone in your home or on your property.
  • Water stains on flooring, baseboards, walls, or ceilings. Again, this is a strong indicator that something isn’t quite right.
  • Sounds of running water through the walls. If you’re hearing water running through the pipes in your walls when the water isn’t on, call a plumber right away to diagnose if a leak is present.

Don’t Wait – Call a Plumber Today

Leaks – visible or hidden- are not something that should be left alone. Licensed plumbers like the ones at Rooter Hero Plumbing can help you with the following leaks:

  • Under-the-sink leaks
  • Garbage disposal leaks
  • Water pipes leaks
  • Toilet leaks
  • Dripping faucets
  • And, more!

Call a certified plumber to help you diagnose and repair leaks in your home to keep your property watertight and safe.

Is a Wetroom a Good Choice for Your Bathroom?

Wetrooms are open-concept bathrooms that are quite popular across the pond in the UK. While this concept is still rather new to American homeowners, we get calls from property owners interested in this bathroom configuration enough times to make it a topic worthy of its own blog post.

So, what exactly is a wetroom?

Essentially, a wetroom is a bathroom that has an open shower configuration. The shower does not have a door and its floor is flush with the rest of the bathroom’s flooring. This kind of bathroom configuration works well in small bathrooms because it gives the illusion of space and eliminates clearance obstacles for swinging shower doors. UK properties tend to be smaller than American homes, which is why the wetroom is seen more often across the Atlantic.

If you’re interested in remodeling an existing bathroom in this manner, there are some things you’ll want to take into consideration.


The greatest challenge homeowners face with this kind of shower setup is the potential for leaks or other water damage. Waterproofing is essential since the entire bathroom acts as the enclosure for the shower. Materials used must be able to withstand dampness. For example, you’ll need to install a vanity that is made of materials that won’t warp or breakdown from the exposure to the constant humidity.

If you’re interested in using natural stone, a wetroom may not be ideal. Natural stone is porous and absorbs water. Wetrooms with natural stone need to be resealed every couple of months to stay watertight. This is why most wetrooms use ceramic tile or another similar material.


While wetrooms are stylish, comfort is an issue. With traditional, enclosed showers, the water heats the area and keeps you warm while taking the shower. Since the entire bathroom acts as the enclosure in a wetroom, it is harder to stay warm while showering. Some homeowners opt to install radiant floor heating to overcome this challenge or heat lamps.

Resell Value

If you plan to sell your home in the near future, contact a real estate agent to find out if this is a feature that will attract homebuyers. Although a wetroom may increase your property’s value, it may turn off potential buyers.

Constructing a Wetroom

If you decide to accept the wetroom challenge, make sure you work with a licensed plumber who understands the delicate nature of these bathrooms. Planning must be precise and you may need additional permits.

For more information about the latest trends in bathroom plumbing, get in touch with Rooter Hero Plumbing. We can help you design a bathroom that is stylish, functional, and will add value to your home.

Save Money with these Water Heating Tips

You can lower your energy costs without compromising comfort. Water heating accounts for nearly 18% of your energy bill making it the second biggest utility expensive in your home.

Homeowners that want to save money on monthly water heating costs have four options:

  1. Adjust the unit’s thermostat
  2. Insulate the heater
  3. Use less hot water
  4. Purchase an energy-efficient model

Let’s take a moment to go over each of these choices.

Adjusting the Thermostat

You may not realize that your water heater has an adjustable thermostat that allows you to control the level of heating. Most models have 2-3 temperature settings. If you’re running your heater at the highest setting, consider lowering the thermostat to reduce energy usage.  The only downside with this option is that your water may not reach temperatures you desire or stay at that temperature for a decent period of time. A comfortable setting that achieves energy efficiency is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate the Heater

Is your water heater installed near an exterior wall or in the middle of a room that is cold and drafty? Water heaters are typically installed in garages, basements, or utility rooms. Garages and basements tend to be cold and could be making your unit work harder than necessary. To overcome this obstacle, consider insulating the heater. Both natural gas and oil hot-water storage tanks can be insulated, but it’s important that you follow manufacturer recommendations for insulation.

We recommend calling a professional plumber to help you insulate your water heater. You don’t want to cover the thermostat, burner compartment of the top and bottom of the heater.  Professional insulation services are affordable and will protect your heater.

Use Less Hot Water

One of the easiest ways to reduce your utility costs is to use less hot water. Although this is an easy, free method, it can be inconvenient. Homeowners like the convenience of hot water and limiting it may not be as easy to adjust to. However, if you’re committed to this change consider the following ways to limit hot water usage:

  • Wash clothing in cold water
  • Turn off the shower when lathering or shaving
  • Put a time limit on showers

Install an Energy-Efficient Water Heater

Older water heaters use a lot more energy to heat water than today’s models. If you’re ready to upgrade your heater, consider an Energy Star-rated model or install a tankless water heater. While tankless water heaters save the most energy because they heat on-demand, these units aren’t everyone’s budget.

You don’t have to spend extra on a tankless water heater to reduce your energy usage. Choosing an Energy Star-rated tank water heater can still save you money. A little research and working with professionals that can provide you with expert guidance will help you choose an energy-saving water heater with a price you can feel comfortable paying.

When you’re ready to discuss replacing your water heater, give Rooter Hero Plumbing a call. We’ll connect you with a plumber who will be happy to help you find the best replacement for your needs.

How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain

You can save yourself some time and a lot of frustration by learning how to unclog a bathroom drain yourself. If it’s becoming more of a hassle than a pleasure stepping into a nice warm shower because of water pooling at your feet, it’s time to take action.

Here are some tricks for clearing the clog yourself.

Grab a Plunger

That plunger under your bathroom sink isn’t just for nasty toilet clogs. It also alleviates tub clogs. The trick to using a plunger on a bathroom drain is to make sure all overflow drains and other holes connected to the drain are covered to improve suction. Place the plunger over the clogged drain and pump it several times. With any luck, this will take care of the problem.

Use Boiling Water

When plunging doesn’t work, try pouring boiling water into the drain. Stubborn clogs sometimes respond better to boiling water.

But, WAIT!

Before you go this route make sure you know what type of piping you have. PVC pipes should not be treated with boiling water because the high temperatures can damage pipe seams.

Grab a Hanger

Do you still use wire hangers in your closet? If you have one of these contraptions handy, you can take it apart and straighten it out. Very gently push the wire with the hook into the drain and try to dislodge the clog. Hopefully, when you pull the hanger out, you’ll have the source of the clog on the end of the hook.

Purchase a Drain Snake

Local plumbing stores have this usual plumbing tool available at an inexpensive price. The drain snake is placed in the drain and then you’ll use the crank to force the head of the snake further into the pipe. Snaking is a highly effective way of getting rid of tough drain clogs and can even be used for toilet clogs.

Call the Plumber

Sometimes, no matter what you do, that clog just won’t go away. If you’ve tried the methods mentioned above with little success, it’s time to call a licensed plumber. The clog may be too big for DIY methods. You may need to have the drain hydro-jetted or, in some cases, there may be something more serious going on.

A licensed plumber will perform a thorough inspection and make suggestions for repairs.

Rooter Hero Plumbing offers drain cleaning services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for residents in parts of Arizona, California, and Texas. Call us today to find out if we service your community.