Eco-Friendly Ways to Unclog Drains

Clogged toilets, sinks, and floor drains are a hassle and can be quite nasty. If you’re faced with kitchen or bathroom clog and you want to get back to business as usual, there are measures you can take to alleviate the blockage.

At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we believe in using eco-friendly approaches to clearing drains. We highly discourage the use of chemical cleaners not only because they are destructive to water pipes and drains, but can pose a serious hazard to children and pets.

So, what are my options?

That’s a great question. Here are three solutions you can try that often yield good results.

Pick Up the Plunger

Every household should have a plunger. Yes, this tool isn’t pleasant, but it’s the first line of defense against a tough clog. Plunging works well for shallow clogs. Blockages that have moved past the toilet trap or are further in the piping that attached to your sink may require professional drain cleaning.

Related Posts: How to Choose the Right Plunger for Maximum Results

Try Baking Soda

Sometimes plunging a toilet doesn’t remove all the debris. If the drain is still moving slowly, try pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by three cups of boiling water. This mixture works well at loosening debris left behind and may help you achieve that clear drain.

Add Vinegar

If the clog is resistant to plunging and baking soda, try a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. The best ratio of baking soda to vinegar is 1:1. In this case, start with ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of warm vinegar.

If these solutions don’t get your drains clear, it’s time to call your local plumber. Rooter Hero Plumbing plumbers have specialized drain cleaning equipment like the hydro-jet to get rid of tough clogs.

To learn more about your drain cleaning options, get in touch with a Rooter Hero Plumber today.

3 Tips for Keeping Your Basement Dry and Leak-Free

Houses, old and new, can experience basement leaks that can lead to flooding. Luckily, there are precautions that homeowners can take to prevent this expensive and damaging situation. By installing a sump pump, fixing leaks early, and taking action to make sure your yard slopes away from your foundation, you can stay ahead of flooding issues.

Here are some tips to follow to give you peace of mind and a dry basement.

Install a Sump Pump: A sump pump consists of a pit insert into the foundation of your home where water is collected. Piping extends from the top of the pit and attaches to an exterior basement wall so the sump’s pump can expel the water out of the pit when the levels get too high. Sumps can thwart flooding during heavy downpours and days of unrelenting rain.

Related Posts: The Benefits of Installing a Sump Pump

Call a Plumber of Leak Inspection: Hidden leaks beneath a home’s concrete slab can lead to structural failure. Slab leaks happen when piping breaks, corrodes, or stops working because it was installed incorrectly. Too high of water pressure and hard water can also cause leaks to form in underground pipes. Yearly leak detection service can help you spot potential problems before a pipe bursts and make the appropriate repairs.

Consider Regrading Your Yard: Over time the soil shifts in your yard and it can cause its slope to change. If your yard is sloping toward your foundation, your basement could be at risk for flooding. Water has a tendency to pool around the foundation and if there are any cracks, even hairline cracks, that’s all the water needs to slither through into your basement and cause problems. A landscaper can help you with grading issues.

Regular Maintenance Prevents Flooding

Even with a sump pump, it’s still important to consider annual leak detection and other plumbing maintenance services. Sump pumps, like any other mechanical device, can wear out and break down. The protection you think you have in place is no longer there.

Plumbers like those at Rooter Hero Plumbing can help you maintain all your plumbing components and inspect your foundation for leaks. Don’t wait until the problem has escalated. Regular maintenance and vigilance go a long way toward protecting your home.

How Galvanized Plumbing Could Cost You Thousands

Homeowners living in homes built before the 1980s may have hidden plumbing issues on the verge of costing them thousands of dollars. This is because many homes built prior to 1980 were constructed using galvanized plumbing.

What’s wrong with galvanized piping? A lot, says Ron Herring of Rooter Hero Plumbing in Houston, TX.

“Galvanized piping has an expiration date, so to speak,” says Herring. “Over time, corrosion occurs and this can cause a lot of problems for homeowners.”

Problems that homeowners like Lacee Kramer know about all too well.

“We bought a 1960s bungalow in the Woodlands area of Houston. My husband and I fell in love with its charm and vintage appeal,” Kramer recalls. “What we didn’t realize was that the vintage feel extended to the plumbing behind the walls.”

Shortly after buying their home, Lacee and her husband began to notice that the water pressure was significantly lower than what they were used to. They contacted the municipal water supply only to find out everything was just fine on the utility company’s end. This is when the Kramers started to get worried.

“We called our local plumber and he quickly determined the problem was rust inside our pipes. At the moment, the rusting was only affecting the water pressure in the master bathroom shower, but it was only a matter of time before other problems would start happening.”

What happened next? The Kramers opted to replace the galvanized plumbing throughout the 1400 square foot home – not an inexpensive plumbing job.

What’s the lesson here? Homeowners who have older properties or are considering purchasing older homes should have the pipes inspected for signs of aging. Aging pipes not only have evidence of corrosion, but they are more susceptible to leaks. A burst pipe in the middle of the night is not something you want to wake to and it can cause a great deal of water damage to walls, flooring, and a home’s foundation.

Related Post: Do I Need a Permit when Changing My Plumbing?

The best solution, when faced with aging galvanized pipes, is to replace them with CPCV pipes. CPCV material is the industry standard and much more durable, designed to stand up to heavy usage.

Replacing the piping system in a home isn’t cheap. It can run homeowners anywhere from $6, 000 – $10,000 for full replacement, but the peace of mind it brings is priceless.

Homeowners in the Houston area can contact Rooter Hero Plumbing for more information about pipe replacement and to schedule a free estimate. Rooter Hero Plumbing is also available in Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson) and many areas in Northern and Southern California.

Why Is My Water Pressure So Low?

Low water pressure can make the simplest tasks such as doing laundry and washing dishes very difficult. When water pressure is low, taking a shower can be a frustrating experience and it can leave you wondering what’s going on with your home’s plumbing.

Low water pressure is a plumbing problem that is easily solved once the source is identified. Luckily, experienced plumbers know which usual suspects to investigate.

Dirty Pipes

It doesn’t take much debris to cause problems. But what kind of debris could be in my pipes, you ask. Pipes catch all sort of debris from dirt, pollutants, sand, and mineral deposits. Sometimes this debris enters the system because of a fracture in the main pipe, but not always.

Plumbers determine if this is the problem by examining small sections of piping for mineral buildup. If a plumber finds buildup, the solution may be hydro-jetting or using chemicals to dissolve the clog.

Leaky Pipes

Pipes that are fractured will leak. When there is a leak, water doesn’t flow at the same rate. It’s that simple. Identifying the source of the leak can be a bit trickier. Homeowners who suspect a leak can perform a simple test that will help them give their technician a bit more information upon arrival. This test is conducted by turning off all the water to the house for a period of a couple hours. Check the water meter after you do this, go see a movie, and when you return, check the meter again. If the meter indicates water usage while the water has been turned off, it’s pretty obvious there is a leak in the main line.

Related Post: How Hard Water Is Affecting Your Plumbing System

When a plumber comes to you home, he or she will perform a video camera inspection to figure out exactly where the leak is in the pipe. This amazing service saves a lot of time and money by pinpointing the exact location almost immediately.

Corroded Pipes

If you home has galvanized or steel pipes, the cause of the low water pressure could be corrosion. These kinds of pipes are built to last decades, but that doesn’t mean that buildup can break them down over time. When corrosion occurs, repairs are not always possible. In a case like this, you may need to replace the pies.

Related Post: How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Municipal Water Supply Problems

Lastly, if a plumber comes to your home and cannot find the source of the low water pressure, it could be an issue that needs to be taken up with your municipal water supply company. Municipal water suppliers can experience the same kinds of problems with the pipes at their buildings as homeowners just on a bigger scale. Call the water supply company to find out if other customers are having problems and for a resolution timeline.

As with any plumbing problem, it’s important to call for repairs right away. Waiting for the problem to solve itself will get you nowhere. Your handy, local plumber has a number of solutions for all problems and budget.

Contact Rooter Hero Plumbing

Rooter Hero Plumbing is a multi-state plumbing service responding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to home and businesses throughout Arizona, California, and Texas.

3 Ways to Maximize Your Water Heater’s Performance

A water heater that is well maintained is a water heater that will last longer and performs better. Better performance saves YOU money and reduces the chances that you’ll have an unexpected repair bill. While we always suggest that you call for professional maintenance services like the ones we offer at Rooter Hero Plumbing, there are still little things that homeowners can do to make sure their water heater is working its best year-round.

Inspect Your Water Heater for Leaks and Drips

Leaky water heaters not only underperform, but when these leaks go unnoticed they can cause water damage to flooring, foundations, and walls. Water that sits for long periods of time can cause rot, mold, and even lead to structural issues.

Leaks can come from broken valves or damaged pipes. You don’t need to be a plumber to identify a leak. Most leaks are noticeable right away because they have caused puddling on the floor.

Expert tip: Is your water heater located in a utility closet or in a dark corner of your basement? Take a flashlight with you and be methodical when searching for leaks. Leaks can go undetected when heaters are in dark, tight spaces.

Inspect the Pressure Release Valve

Your tank water heater, whether it is gas-powered or electric, has an overflow pipe with a pressure release valve that should be inspected annually. Homeowners can test this valve by pulling on it very gently. A working valve will release water from the overflow pipe. You want this valve to be in good working order because it is designed to relieve pressure when it builds up. Without this valve, a water heater’s pressure could build to a point where the heater could explode.

Drain the Tank Annually

Water heaters are susceptible to sediment build up and will last longer when the tank is drained once a year. Tanks with too much sediment don’t heat as well or stop heating altogether. Sediment can clog heating elements and will reduce the tank’s efficiently, making it work harder for less than ideal results. If you have hard water and do not have a softener or whole-house filtration system, you may benefit draining the tank once a year.

Before you drain the tank, make sure to turn the water supply off. Also, turn off the fuel or electrical supply (depending on the kind of heater you have) before doing any work. Draining a water heater tank isn’t rocket science, but most homeowners feel better letting the pros take care of this maintenance task.

At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we offer a menu of residential plumbing repair and maintenance services that includes water heater draining. Give us a call today to learn more or, if you’re outside of our service area, call your local plumber for assistance.

4 Ways You’re Harming Your Plumbing System

Did you know that the average plumbing repair costs between $180 and $250? Although this isn’t an outrageous number, it’s still less money that you have in your wallet at the end of the day. While serious plumbing problems can occur for a number of different reasons, the majority of issues are the direct result of silly things homeowners do.

Here are four ways you may be abusing your plumbing system without even realizing it.

Toilets Are not Trash Cans

If you’re in the habit of flushing anything and everything down the toilet, it’s a habit that needs to stop now. Residential plumbing systems are not as tough as you may think. While they are built to last, the drain pipes connected to the toilet and the toilet itself are not meant to be stuffed with things like paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and general trash.

Drain Cleaning Products Are not the Best Solution

So, you’ve treated your drains badly for years, and now you think the only solution is to pour gallons of drain cleaner into your pipes. While this may work once or twice, relying on this solution should not be a long-term strategy for clearing clogged drains. These products contain harsh chemicals that can corrode and weaken your water pipes, which can lead to leaks and other problems. If the clog isn’t responding to drain cleaning solution after the first or second time, do yourself a favor and call a plumber.

Stop Pouring Grease, Fat, and other Oils in the Garbage Disposal

Okay. We get it. The garbage disposal is supposed to be a hungry kitchen monster that will eat anything. And, it will, but it won’t necessarily be able to digest what it’s consuming. Homeowners that pour oil, grease, fat, and even grind up fatty pieces of meat, are just waiting for a problem to happen. These substances will harden as they cool and even if they make it past the disposal; they may harden further in the drain pipes and form a clog. Substances that harden as they cool should be thrown in the trash or stored in a container.

Drills Are Not a Plumbing System’s Best Friend

Are you installing new cabinets or renovating a bathroom? Maybe you’re just drilling a hole for a screw to hang a picture in your bedroom. No matter what the reason is that you’re drilling into the wall, it’s important to make sure there isn’t any plumbing in the wall that could be damaged by the drill. It happens more often than you think. Before you begin any DIY task, make sure there are not any hidden pipes in the way.

Yes. Mistakes happen. Sometimes these mistakes lead to a plumbing problem. If you find yourself in a jam, don’t panic. Call your trusted Rooter Hero Plumber for immediate assistance.

Could One of these Creatures Be Lurking in Your Toilet?

There are plenty of urban myths out there of man-eating rats, scary crocodiles, and venomous snakes waiting to take advantage of your most defenseless moments. The truth is that the idea of these situations happening is far-fetched. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for certain wildlife to make its way into your plumbing system.

Just to have a little fun, let’s take a look at four creatures that could find their way into your toilets if they were so inclined.

Frogs

This amphibian does like damp places and what is damper than water pipes, sewers, and drains? The likelihood of a frog making its way through your pipes and jumping out of the toilet when you open the lid is almost non-existence, especially in the places that Rooter Hero Plumbing serves. But, that isn’t to say this doesn’t happen in other places in the world.

In humid, tropical locations such as Australia, Puerto Rico, and throughout the Caribbean there have been incidents reported to local plumbers of frogs being found in toilets. What’s the takeaway? While you’re probably out of the woods at home, if you have a tropical vacation planned you may want to double-check before you use the toilet.

Rats

Rat-in-toilets incidents are actually something that may be more common than you think. While it’s certainly not something you need to lose sleep over, these rodents have been known to make their way through the sewers and into residential plumbing systems. The largest rat-in-toilets infestation occurred in 2008 in the state of Washington.

The Health Department theorized that these rats found their way into homes because they were following the scent of food. Food waste that was rinsed down various drains in homes across the area attracted the rodents, who then became confused when in the plumbing systems and found their way out through toilets instead the kitchen sink.

We don’t know how you feel about it, but we think a rat in the sink isn’t too much better than a rat in the toilet.

Poisonous Spiders

Do you have an outhouse at a cabin you own? Maybe you have a vacation home that isn’t used regularly? Although poisonous spiders in toilets are rare, if you have an abandoned toilet that isn’t used on a consistent basis, it is possible that spiders could spin webs below the toilet seat. In some areas of the world, black widow spiders have a habit of doing this.

Snakes

Many urban myths exist about vicious, blood-thirsty snakes traveling through plumbing systems and waiting to attack unsuspecting homeowners. Unfortunately, this is one myth that will never die. It is also just that – a myth.

Could snakes travel through a plumbing system? Small, water snakes may be able to traverse through the pipes but these snakes aren’t venomous and non-threatening.

However, snakes of all types have been known to make their way into basements through floor drains surprising homeowners when they move piles of laundry. If you live in an area that is prone to snakes, our advice is to install a mesh covering to keep these reptiles out.

A DIY Plumbing Maintenance Checklist for You

Regular maintenance goes a long way toward sustaining a working plumbing system. Homeowners who are on top of kitchen and bathroom plumbing maintenance will reap the rewards. Minor repairs are less expensive than major repair or replacement services. While it’s always a good idea to call a licensed plumber if you have questions, we know that educated homeowners experience fewer problems. That is why we put together this professional grade plumbing maintenance checklist for you to identify and repair small problems on your own.

Kitchen Plumbing Maintenance

Your home’s kitchen can be a source of plumbing leaks and clogs. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your sinks and drains in top condition.

  • Inspect your sinks for leaks. This is the hardest-working fixture in the kitchen. Leaks can form quickly and virtually anywhere. Check your faucet, garbage disposal, under-sink piping, and the faucet’s sprayer.
  • Look for signs of water damage under the sink.
  • Use your garbage disposal according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Clean the sink drain regularly to get rid of debris. There are chemical cleaners that are safe or you can search online for natural solutions.

Bathroom Plumbing Maintenance

The #1 service call we receive at Rooter Hero Plumbing is for a clogged toilet. But, toilet clogs aren’t the only bathroom plumbing problems that our customer experience. Check out these maintenance tips for a watertight bathroom.

  • Clear drains. If drains have hair or other visible debris, remove it by hand or by using drain snake.
  • Check the base of the toilet and around faucets and shower heads for leaks.
  • Repair running toilets. This is a cheap and easy fix that can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.
  • Clean faucets or shower heads that have limescale buildup. If necessary, replace the fixtures if cleaning doesn’t work.

Septic and Sewer Maintenance

Sewer line repair is a major expense. Don’t let this home plumbing problem take you by surprise. There are things you can do today to prevent a busted sewer line or raw sewage from backing up into your home.
• Use an enzyme additive on a regular basis to clean the septic system.
• Schedule regular inspections by a professional plumber. Annual inspections are recommended.
• Do not plant trees or other types of shrubbery with long roots near the sewer line. Landscaping should be planted at least 10 ft. away from sewer lines to prevent tree roots from growing into the line or strangling the line.
• Have the sewer line cleaned annually.
• Call for professional service immediately if you suspect a problem.

Rooter Hero Plumbing has over 20 years of experience helping homeowners and businesses with their plumbing problems. We serve metropolitan areas in Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson), Texas (Houston) and California (Southern and Central CA). To schedule an inspection or to learn more about the plumbing maintenance and repair services we offer, call us today.

We offer same-day service, free estimates, and affordable pricing. No one beats our commitment to quality workmanship and excellent customer service!

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.

Gravity

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.

Faucets

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

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.