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!

Warning Signs of a Main Line Clog

Your home’s sewer line may be hidden, but that doesn’t mean it should be considered out of sight, out of mind. A damaged sewer line has the potential to cause massive damage inside a home if ignored. Unfortunately, the average homeowner doesn’t have much knowledge beyond the basics of how their sewer line functions. In fact, most people don’t even give the sewer line a second thought until a clog forms.

A main sewer line clog is not something to take lightly. This kind of obstruction can cause raw sewage to back up into the drains requiring extensive sewer line repair and replacement.

How can you prevent such a significant repair? Here are some things you should be observant about as you use the plumbing in your home.

Clogged Toilets

Sewage problems do not happen overnight. There are red flags that alert sharp-eyed homeowners to potential problems. If you listen to what your home is saying to you, it’s possible to thwart a major disaster.

Toilets that back up frequently or gurgle are trying to tell you something is wrong. Randall Smythe, a Rooter Hero Plumbing technician, says, “If you notice that when you drain the bathtub your toilets backup, this is a very big sign that something isn’t working the way it is supposed to.”

Blockages can occur in the secondary lines too, not just the main sewer line, Smythe reminds us. Ideally, secondary line blockages are easier to resolve and cost less to fix because the problem is isolated to one area of the home. You can tell if you have a secondary blockage if only one plumbing fixture is experiencing problems. For example, if you flush your toilet and it won’t drain.

Symptoms of a main line clog are flushing that same toilet and the water backing up into your bathroom sink or water pooling around a floor drain in your basement. In cases like these, you’re most likely dealing with a main line obstruction.

What Causes a Main Line Clog?

If you own a new home, main line clogs often occur because of poor flushing habits. Feminine hygiene products and too much toilet paper are the two main causes of clogs in newer homes.

Homeowners with older properties often have to contend with tree roots that have grown into the sewer line. Usually by the time this problem is detected the majority of the damage has already been done.  Tree roots can cause large amounts of the main line to be crushed and operation is affected.

Relieving the Pressure

Gaining access to the sewer clean out is a good way to alleviate the pressure and get waste water flowing out of the home and into the yard. Remove the cap that is over the clean out pipe. This will release the pressure. However, waste water in the yard is not a permanent solution.  You’ll need to call a plumber to help you repair the problem.

Calling a Plumber

When you call a plumber, ask for a clean out and also a video camera inspection. The average price for a clean out using a drain snake or hydro-jetting service is around $150 depending on the geographical area and the service you use.

If the pipe is damaged, you’ll need to have the line relined or replaced. This is a repair that is more extensive than the average clean out, but thanks to new technology like trenchless sewer line repair there are cost-effective repair options.

For more information about main line clogs, contact your friendly Rooter Hero Plumbing pro today!

What Is the Difference between Pipe Bursting vs. Pipe Relining

Broken water pipes or sewer lines require fast and precise repairs. In the past, cured-in-place (CIPP) lining was the go-to repair method. CIPP continues to be cost-effective and highly popular method “replacing” damaged pipes, but over the past several years pipe bursting has caught up in popularity in certain areas of the country.

What Is Pipe Bursting?

Pipe bursting is often referred to as trenchless sewer line repair. It replaces the conventional way of laying pipe using a construction trench. Pipe bursting is an effective repair method for fixing natural gas lines, sewer lines, and buried water pipes.

Trenchless technology can be used for hydraulic bursting, static bursting, lateral bursting, and pneumatic bursting. Each of the bursting processes breaks the damaged pipe before laying the new pipe. The difference is how the force is generated.

What Is Pipe Relining?

Instead of digging up a broken pipe and replacing it, pipe relining enables a plumber to spot repair or patch a broken pipe using no-dig technology. However, the term no-dig technology can be misleading. In most cases, a small amount of excavation is required to get to the pipe but it is very little when compared to conventional replacement methods. Pipe relining is extremely cost-effective because of the lack of extensive excavation needed and few labor hours. In many cases, repairs can be made in just a few hours compared to a few days for traditional methods.

Which Method Is Best for My Situation?

A plumber will need to access the situation to make that determination. The best method, though, will address the problem as quickly and efficiently for as little out-of-pocket cost and damage to yard or flooring as possible. If you’re experiencing problems with underground pipes in your home or place of business, connect with a Rooter Hero Plumber in your area today for a free, no-obligation inspection and written estimate.

Frequently Asked Questions by Landlords

Rental properties can be a great source of income. More and more people are opting to invest in this kind of real estate as a way to generate residual income. However, as with any investment, there are risks that can affect your profits. In the rental industry, the biggest risks are choosing the wrong tenant and dealing with unexpected repair costs. If you’re new to the rental business, check out these frequently asked plumbing questions by California landlords. Being in the know will keep you in business.

What Is a Habitable Residence?

In California, all landlords are required to make sure their properties are safe and habitable for their residents at all times. State and local building codes make it clear that if plumbing problems exist that threaten a building’s sanitation the structure could be deemed uninhabitable. An uninhabitable structure is a building that won’t generate income because, legally, you can’t have people living in such a state.

Here are just a few reasons why an inspector could deem a residence uninhabitable:
• Cold and hot water systems are not working properly
• Property is not connected to public sewage or a private septic system
• Plumbing components like water pipes, toilets, sinks, faucets, and other fixtures are not in working order

How Long Do I Have to Fix a Problem?

Landlords are allotted a reasonable timeframe to fix problems that arise. The exact amount of time you have varies depending on the problem and is not spelled out specifically in California Code. Let’s take a look at two different situations.

Example #1: A toilet in the master bathroom of your rental home in Mission Hills is backing up. Tenants call to inform you of the problem. There is only one other bathroom in the home.

In a case like this, the tenants have a reasonable expectation of fast service. Toilet clogs can usually be hydro-jetted, snaked, or otherwise fixed in a quick manner. Most plumbing services like Rooter Hero Plumbing can send a plumber to the residence right away to make repairs the same day. Therefore, in a situation like this, it shouldn’t take more than 24 hours for repairs to be completed.

Example #2: The sewer line in the backyard of your San Diego rental home has busted. Raw sewage is saturating the backyard.

This is a repair that may take an additional day or two to complete depending on the extent of the damage to the sewer line. Sometimes, trenchless sewer line repair can be done reducing the amount of time necessary for repairs, but the only way to know for sure is to contact a plumber for a complete evaluation.

When plumbing problems take several days to repair, it may be necessary to help your tenants find temporary housing or reimburse them for the expense of short-term relocation.

I Don’t Want to Pay the Costs for Relocation. How Can I Prevent Major Plumbing Problems from Happening?

Routine maintenance and proper usage are the best ways to ensure that major plumbing problems like busted pipes, slab leaks, and broken sewer lines do not occur. We recommend that landlords participate in regular preventive maintenance services like drain cleaning and video camera inspection service, so little problems can be addressed right away.

Tenant education is also important. If toilets or sinks are frequently clogging or backing up, speak with your tenants about what their flushing down the toilet or rinsing down the sink. Communication between you and your tenants is a great way to keep plumbing problems away.

Who Is Responsible for Payment?

In most cases, the landlord assumes this obligation. Any plumbing problem that is caused by normal usage is not the tenants’ responsibility. There are exceptions, though. If a tenant has purposely neglected a component of the plumbing system, you may require them to pay for repairs or reimburse you. Speak with an attorney for more information about these situations.

If you need plumbing service, call Rooter Hero Plumbing in California today. We have plumbers available around the clock to help you keep your rental property safe and habitable.

The Cold Hard Truth about Your Clogged Drains

It’s time to get serious and down to business. Let’s talk about those clogged drains in your home. Are you fed up with the way your toilets and sinks drain? It’s quite possible if these components of your plumbing system could talk that they would tell you that you’re part of the problem.

Your toilets and sinks are not being rude, and neither are we. The cold hard truth about common drainage problems is that homeowners’ habits are to blame the majority of the time. While age and incorrectly installed pipes can be reasons for slow-flow drains, leaks, and frequent backups, most clogged drains are the direct result of flushing the wrong items down the toilet and putting things in sinks and garbage disposals that belong in the trash.

What Not to Flush

Let’s talk about your household toilets first. A backed-up toilet is frustrating and unpleasant. Sometimes problems with sewer pipes like tree roots growing around the line can cause clogs, but more likely than not the problem is with what is being flushed.

Toilets are not trash receptacles. The toilet itself as well as the drain and pipes that move waste water out of the home are not designed to handle non-organic material. Here are common items that our plumbers find in pipes that cause a lot of problems:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Q-tips
  • Facial tissue
  • Washcloths
  • Children’s toys

So, what can you flush? Toilet paper is the only item that is acceptable to flush. And, you need to be mindful of how much toilet paper you flush. Without getting too personal, if you need to use large quantities, flush a little at time. Also, if you have a septic system, make sure the toilet paper you purchase is septic-approved. Most major brands of toilet paper meet the criteria for septic tanks, but generic, off-brands may not.

Using the Sink

After the toilet, household sinks are the other plumbing component that is frequently misused. While most households are careful about putting so-called garbage like wrappers and paper products in the sink, they aren’t so careful when it comes to rinsing substances that harden as they cool.

Cooking oil, butter, fat, and even fatty and greasy food bits should also be thrown in the garbage. Rinsing these down the sink or even placing them in the garbage disposal can lead to problems. These kinds of substances harden as they cool. Even though you may run hot water while rinsing or grinding them, they can still exist further in the pipes and will eventually cool creating a small clog. You may not notice a problem right away, but the more you continue this habit the larger the clog will become until it makes it impossible for water to pass.

Routine Drain Cleaning Catches Problems Early

Save money and avoid potential plumbing nightmares by investing in routine drain cleaning services. Most residential drain cleaning is under $100 dollars and can give you peace of mind. If you’re not ready to commit to yearly drain cleaning, at the very least consider the service if you’ve hosted a large party or a holiday get-together. Plumbing systems can be put to the test with the increased usage.

Want more tips on keeping your home’s plumbing system in top condition? Check out our other blog articles or give a Rooter Hero Plumbing associate a call to learn more about our drain cleaning services.

Preventive Maintenance Plans Save $$$ Down the Road

When it comes to your plumbing system, it’s a lot simpler to maintain it than it is to fix it. You’ve probably noticed this trend in other areas of your life as well, whether it’s health, finances, or your car. Subscribing to a routine maintenance plan may seem like an unnecessary expense if you haven’t had an issue in years, but it can really pay off in the long run.

Many professional plumbers recommend that you have your pipes, appliances, and fixtures checked once every year or two. With hundreds of different components under constant pressure, it should come as no surprise that there are many ways for your system to become faulty or deteriorate over years of use.

How Can Plumbing Maintenance Plans Save You Money?

While some plumbing issues are the result of a sudden or unpredictable cause, many common problems can be anticipated. Routine maintenance isn’t free, but it’s much cheaper than the potential damage caused by a burst water main or blocked sewer line. Fixing these major problems can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, making maintenance plans seem very affordable by comparison.

Aside from the financial concern, there is also the issue of time and convenience. Maintenance is scheduled in advance and causes little disruption to your daily routine. On the other hand, a disastrous flooding of your basement may force you to take action in the middle of the night and wreak havoc on your plans for the day.

How Maintenance Prevents Plumbing Issues

There are dozens of things that can go wrong with your plumbing system. The web of pipes, appliances, fixtures and other components that run throughout your home are one of the most complex and delicate parts of the entire structure.

Video camera inspections of your pipes’ interiors reveal tiny cracks or faults that you would not have noticed otherwise as well as trapped debris that could turn into a serious blockage in the months ahead. Physical examination of the pipes may also show tiny leaks or other ongoing issues that are slowly inflating your water and energy bills.

Maintenance is especially important for water heaters and other appliances. Small specks of dirt often build up in appliances as water passes through. If they aren’t cleaned regularly, the device will become less efficient and run a higher chance of breaking down altogether.

Your plumber will also check the integrity of emergency shut-off valves, which are crucial for managing water damage in the event of a pipe burst. You don’t want to learn that the valve is stuck or dysfunctional when water is pouring across your floors.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike. Call your local plumbing hero today to schedule your maintenance appointment.

Living Off the Grid: Water and Waste Solutions

Whether you want to get off the grid due to personal conviction or simple curiosity, you’ll find that it’s not as challenging as it seems with the proper planning and research. Establishing unconventional plumbing solutions is a daunting task, but it’s certainly not an impossible one.

While creativity is a big part of moving yourself “off the grid,” it’s also critical to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. Drinking unfiltered water can have serious repercussions on your health and disposing of waste in an unsanitary manner can impact your neighbors. When in doubt, consult a local legal expert before finalizing your design.

Establishing Your Water Supply

Water is essential for a functional plumbing system as well as a variety of domestic uses, including cleaning and cooking. Establishing access to a consistent supply of fresh water is one of the major steps you must take to establish independence from public utilities.

Fortunately, there is already plenty of precedents when it comes to off the grid water solutions. Millions of families in the United States already rely on wells to supply their home with water. However, the viability of this option depends on your local water table. It may not be an option at all in some areas.

Wells also require drilling, which should be conducted by a licensed contractor who is familiar with applicable regulations. Attempting to excavate your own well can have serious financial and legal repercussions for the inexperienced.

Installing cisterns to collect rainwater is another viable option for providing a water supply, although many jurisdictions restrict the amount that an individual household can gather. Some cistern setups are designed to provide water pressure to the system as well as gather and store rainwater.

Waste Disposal Options

Septic systems are a convenient and affordable off-the-grid solution to your waste management problems. The tanks house a collection of bacteria that break down waste into a safer form. Waste material is released into the soil through a series of perforated pipes, which buries pathogens and diffuses them to avoid impacting underground water supplies.

Even homes that are off the grid should still be serviced by licensed plumbers and other professional technicians to keep the property safe. Hiring a licensed, experienced contractor ensures that you won’t make any little mistakes that have big consequences later. If you have questions about off-the-grid water and waste solutions, contact your friendly Rooter Hero Plumbing professional today.

What You Need to Know before You Purchase a Home with a Septic Tank

Are you considering purchasing a home that has a septic system? Before you close the deal, it’s important that you understand the maintenance involved with private septic system and the costs involved for repairs.

What Is a Septic System?

A septic system is a wastewater treatment system frequently found in communities where homes may be spaced further apart and are not within the vicinity of a public sewer facility. This wastewater system is installed underground and handles the treatment and disposal of wastewater for one residence only.

What Are the Risks of Purchasing a Home with a Septic System?

Many people like the idea of a septic system because it appears to operate free of cost. Unlike public sewer systems, homeowners do not pay any one agency a fee for the upkeep and operation of the system. However, if a septic system stops working, the homeowner is solely responsible for any repair costs. These repairs can be something as simple as cleaning out a clogged main line, or they can be outrageously expensive if larger components to the system malfunction.

Common Septic Problems

At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we typically see three main problems with septic systems. Let’s take a closer look at each of the problems individually.

Waste backing up into the home: For homeowners, this is the worst possible scenario in terms of cost and sanitation. When wastewater backs up into sinks, bathtubs, and toilets then overflows onto your floors, it can leave you disgusted and panicked. Hopefully, the problem can be fixed by pumping the septic tank, which is the cheapest solution. But, sometimes, lines may need to be replaced, or the tank itself may require replacement.

Leach field solid waste issues: Problems with the leach field typically occur when too much liquid, in this case, enters the tank. The leach field’s job is to filter partially-treated effluent (in layman’s terms, effluent is raw sewage). When too much liquid enters the septic in a single day, a sludge layer of solid waste forms and this sludge can drain into the leach field. Instead of absorbing into the leach field, the solid waste may sit on top of your lawn creating sanitation issues. Usually, in circumstances like this, the entire septic system needs replacement. The average cost of a septic system is around $30,000, although it can be higher or lower depending on the actual system.

A septic system doesn’t have to be an automatic deal breaker when you’re looking for a property. If you’re interested in purchasing a home on acreage and in a rural area, a septic system may be your only option. The key to keeping repair costs manageable is proper maintenance. Homeowners that educate themselves about their particular septic system and commit to routine maintenance will be less likely to encounter catastrophic repairs.

At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we recommend that potential buyers contact a septic tank inspection service to inspect the system prior to purchasing the property. Making this a condition of your purchase contract will ensure that there are no surprises after you get the key to your new home.

What to Do After a Sewer Backup

If raw sewage flooded your bathrooms, basement, or any other part of your home, you’re going to have a mess to clean up. It’s an unfortunate situation, but after the repairs are made the homeowner is usually left to deal with the aftermath. When faced with circumstances like these, safety should always be at the center of your clean-up action plan. Raw sewage not only smells and causes water damage, but it is unsanitary and can be harmful to your health.

Here are tips for getting your home back in order after a sewage incident.

Seal off the affected areas from children and pets: Under no circumstances should children or pets be allowed in an area of the home where raw sewage exists. If necessary, you may need to kennel pets if the cleanup process is will take several days.

Never use electrical appliances where standing water is present: Remove wet carpeting, furnishing, and other accessories from the area before plugging in any electrical appliances. In some cases, you may need to use a wet vac to remove standing water. We recommend hiring a professional to do this. If you choose to do this yourself, please use extreme caution.

Properly dispose of waste water: It may be tempting to dump the dirty water you collect outside. However, this can cause health concerns. All sewage water should be disposed of into a sanitary sewer system. Assuming the sewer line problem is fixed, you could flush the water down the toilet or into the main line.

Purchase or rent dehumidifiers and air purifiers: A home that experienced a waste water incident will smell for some time until it is completely dry and aired out. This process can take days or even weeks depending on how bad the situation was. Dehumidifiers and air purifiers can speed up the process and get your home smelling clean and fresh again. Floor fans are also very helpful in accelerating the process.

Wash concrete floors with bleach or other germ-killing agents: Some times when an unfinished basement flood with sewage water it’s a homeowner’s first instinct to sop up the water and call it a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to solve the problem. Germs and bacteria still exist on the concrete and need to be sanitized using bleach or another agent.

No one wants to deal with raw sewage in their homes. Preventive sewer backup solutions in California like annual sewer line inspections can reduce the chances of something like this happening to you, but there are never any guarantees. Sometimes the situation just is what it is. If you find yourself dealing with a busted sewer line, inside or outside of your home, call Rooter Hero Plumbing immediately. We offer emergency service 24/7 to assist local homeowners, landlords, and commercial properties with repair and restoration services.