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.

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.

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 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.

Tips for Saving for Money on Your Water Bill

Reducing water usage has many benefits. Saving money on your monthly water bill is one of those advantages. You may be familiar with water-saving tips such as turning the water off when you brush your teeth or collecting shower water to water your garden, but there are other ways to conserve water without even thinking about it. By switching out old fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and toilets for high-efficiency ones you can save a great deal of energy, which, ultimately, saves you money.

Here’s a surprising statistic. Did you know, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that if every household in the country used water-efficient appliances and fixtures the savings could equal $18 billion U.S. dollars each year? That equates to 3 trillion gallons of water.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, many households opt out of upgrading or retrofitting their fixtures because they aren’t sure what products to purchase or they are concerned about the costs to change out these appliances. Let’s take a moment to talk about the terminology, cost, and what fixtures are best to upgrade.

Low-Flow Fixtures

When shopping for new plumbing fixtures, you want to look for the term low-flow. Ultra-low-flow fixtures use upwards of 20% less water without compromising performance.

Cost to Upgrade

Over the past several years, it’s become less expensive to upgrade to water-saving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads are surprisingly affordable. Most households don’t have the ability to upgrade every fixture in the home immediately. They must make these changes a little at a time. So, which fixtures should you purchase first?

Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade the fixture costing you the most money to operate. Toilets, generally, waste the most water. It is estimated by the EPA that toilets make up 30% of a home’s total water consumption. Most toilets manufactured before 1994 use well over the recommend 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) threshold. If you have older toilets in your home, spend your money upgrading these fixtures first.

Also, many municipalities offer incentives in the form of rebates to households that upgrade to WaterSense fixtures.

Top 3 Plumbing Upgrades

Let’s break down the three plumbing upgrades you can make today to give you the best return on your investment.


We’ve already determined these necessary fixtures use an obscene amount of water. But, which kind of toilet should you buy? Here’s a quick overview of water-efficient models available.

Composting toilet: This is a dry toilet. It uses no water, but it is not suitable for indoor use. The majority of people who purchase these toilets use them in areas where water supplies are limited or a septic or sewer system is not available.

Dual-flush toilet: If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you may be familiar with these toilets as they are very popular in these areas of the world. They are also becoming increasingly popular in commercial restrooms in the United States. The dual-flush toilet gives you two flush options: one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. The liquid waste flushing option uses significantly less water than the solid waste option.

High-efficiency toilets: This is the most popular residential option that meets the current EPA WaterSense standard, which is 1.28 gpf. There are numerous models available that cost less than $200. Some even cost less than $100.


Showerheads come in second to toilets as water-guzzling offenders. The average showerhead contributes to 20% of a home’s water usage. You may be turned off to low-flow showerheads because you’ve heard that the water stream is significantly lower. Technology has changed and responded to homeowners’ concerns. Today’s low-flow showerheads are much better and the water stream is not affected at all just your water bill.


There are plenty of options available for low-flow faucets. Some households are actually going a step further and installing touch-free faucets. Not only do these fixtures save money, they are also quite sanitary.

If you’re ready to make the switch and still have questions, give us a call. Our Rooter Hero Plumbing technicians are always happy to help you determine the best products for your home, lifestyle, and budget.

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.

How Plumbing Automation Can Keep Your Employees Healthy

Employee health is a top concern for any business or organization. Sickness is not only a miserable experience for the individual, but it also means loss of productivity for the employer. Maintaining a sanitary environment is particularly important in the food service industry, as customers and inspectors both expect high levels of cleanliness in the establishment.

Hands-Free for a Healthy Workplace

One of the big advantages of automated plumbing is a decreased risk of transmission of contagious disease, as well as a general increase in hygiene in the workplace. Minimizing contact with communal surfaces hinders germs from spreading between employees and customers.

Automated toilets are a common sight in many modern structures. With the addition of seat covers, the user does not have to make contact with the fixture at any time. It also ensures that the toilet will be flushed between each use, so the next user does not have to deal with a mess left behind by someone else.

Faucets, paper towel dispensers, and air dryers can also be equipped with motion sensors, allowing employees to use the bathroom and wash their hands without ever touching a shared surface. Since many germs are transmitted by touch, this hands-free process greatly reduces the risk of spreading many common diseases.

Depending on the complexity of the automation, toilets can also include a cleaning system that sterilizes the seat between each use. This limits the need for covers, which can create clutter and mess in the stalls when used improperly.

Other Advantages of Automated Plumbing

Hands-free plumbing fixtures also speeds up trips to the restroom and reduces the opportunity for user error or negligence. Many plumbing problems in the workplace stem from a lack of attention or misuse of the fixtures. By automating the process, there is little risk of employees damaging the fixtures.

Plumbing automation also improves the perceived cleanliness of the establishment, which is particularly important for restrooms shared with customers. Since standards of personal cleanliness vary between individuals, automation reduces the chances of a customer or employee being offended by the state of the facilities.

Protect Your Septic System: Flushables that Shouldn’t Be Flushed

The toilet may be a convenient way to get rid of smelly waste material, but treating it like a garbage receptacle can cause serious problems in the fixture, pipes and septic system. In fact, even products that are marketed as “flushable” can have detrimental effects on your plumbing.

The first step towards protecting your system from “unflushables” is to educate yourself regarding what material can be safely flushed. Discourage family members and guests from putting anything else in the toilet, and be sure to place trash cans in each bathroom to provide an easy alternative

The Dangers of Flushable Products

Wet wipes are a popular item when flushing is concerned. Whether they are for your baby or simply for general use, you shouldn’t make a habit out of putting these in the toilet. The wipes do not decompose as quickly as toilet paper, which creates the potential for clogs in your home plumbing as well as in the larger sewer system.

Cat dirt is another common culprit in the “flushable” category. Even if the litter is described as toilet-friendly, there is still a chance that it will cause a clog in your sewer lines. Cat feces also have a high chance of containing a protozoan parasite that causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. Conventional water filtration does not always remove the parasite, which can re-enter the water supply and cause serious health issues for weak or young individuals.

Other Household Items that Should not be Flushed

You may remember your parents warning you not to put napkins or paper towels in the toilet. There is a good reason for this, believe it or not! Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to break apart easily, paper towels absorb and clump inside the sewer system. A few of these can cause a major blockage in no time at all.

Many personal hygiene products, like tampons and diapers, are also a threat to your home’s plumbing. Dental floss, human hair and paper wrappings may seem harmless, but they are another no-no when it comes to proper toilet use. Do not put any food waste in the toilet, especially items containing fats or oil.

Contact a professional plumber for advice if you are unsure if a certain item or product can be safely flushed. If the item is not plumbing-friendly, you can dispose of it by sealing it in a plastic bag and taking it to a landfill or placing it in your primary garbage can if allowed by local law.

Are These Plumbing Monsters Keeping You Up at Night?

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night because of frightening sounds coming from inside your home? Most of the times, these sounds are not ghostly hauntings but problems with your plumbing system. Loose pipes, running toilets, and leaky faucets may not be caused by a mischievous ghost or creature, but they sure can leave you in the middle of a plumbing nightmare if these problems aren’t addressed right away.

Loose Pipes

A loose water pipe can create quite a ruckus. The sounds this plumbing problem emits are loud and can be rather disturbing when they pop up expectedly. If you’re awakened from sleep by this sound, pick up the phone and give your local emergency plumber a call. Fixing a loose pipe isn’t a big deal, and it can be taken care of with relatively little out-of-pocket expense. Typically repairs are minor and consist of securing the pipe to its bracket. However, the longer a loose pipe is left alone, the more likely it is that the pipe can weaken and break apart. When this happens, you’ll have a major water event that can quickly cause massive amounts of water damage.

Running Toilets

Toilets that leak water inside their tanks can take longer to fill, run longer than usual, and, sometimes, run nonstop. Because we lead busy lives, it’s easy to overlook a leaky toilet. It isn’t usually until you’re settled in for the night and when the house is quiet that you may even notice this common plumbing problem. Fixing a leaky toilet isn’t a major expense and many homeowners can make simple repairs themselves. Replacing the flush valve system or installing a new flapper may do the trick. If you make these repairs, and you’re still having problems, you may need to call a professional plumber to investigate the situation.

Scary Plumbing Fact: Did you know that a leaky toilet that continuously runs can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day? That’s more than twice what a typical household uses in one day.  

Leaky Faucets

Is there a faucet in your home that has a slow, steady drip? Maybe it’s an old faucet in your hall bathroom or your kitchen sink faucet. These plumbing fixtures have a tendency to develop leaks because of excessive wear and tear. Also, hard water and improper installation can also cause this annoying situation. These leaks may be keeping you up at night, but they can also lead to higher than average water bills and end up costing you more than you realize.

Say Goodbye to Plumbing Monsters

You can take control of your home’s plumbing quickly when you call Rooter Hero Plumbing or a plumber in your area. Professional plumbers will analyze the situation and make suggestions for repair or replacement of the affected fixtures. Don’t let these little plumbing monsters take over your home and prevent a good night’s sleep. Call for service today!

High-efficiency Toilet Replacement May Qualify You for California’s Rebate Program

We know our customers are looking for two things: great appliances that use less energy and ways to save money when upgrading to high-efficiency plumbing components and appliances. Thanks to a rebate program offered by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) achieving these two goals is easier than ever.

In response to the worsening drought conditions in the state, rebates of up to $100 are available for single-family residences that switch out old, underperforming toilets with new, high-efficiency models that use less water when flushed. The program has a $6 million dollar budget to replace 60,000 toilets across the state.

Are you ready to get your rebate?

Check out the following conditions to make sure you qualify and act fast. The $6 million dollars allocated for the program will go fast as more and more people become aware of the program and decide to make the switch.

  • Your toilet must have a minimum flush volume of 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • The replacement toilet must have a max flush volume of no more than 1.28 gallons per flush.
  • High-efficiency toilet must be listed on the qualifying models list. This list is over 80 pages long making it quite easy to find a qualifying toilet that fits your budget.
  • Toilets must have been purchased on or after August 12, 2015.

I live in a townhome. Do I qualify?

Yes! Per the rebate requirements, single-family residences include townhomes, mobile homes, condominiums, and detached homes.

Does the rebate come off the purchase price or installation fee?

To receive the rebate, you have to fill out an online application. You’ll receive notice of approval and a rebate check will be mailed to you from the DWR program fund shortly after the approval. Rooter Hero Plumbing or any other California plumbing company you work with is not responsible for submitting the rebate information.

How many rebates can I apply for?

While it would be nice to be able to replace every toilet in your home and qualify for multiple rebates, the program limits eligible participants only one rebate per household. This restriction in in place to ensure there is enough funding for as many households as possible to take advantage of the program.

I still have questions. Can I call you?

Absolutely! Our associates are eager to answer your questions and even schedule you for an installation appointment. If you’d prefer to research the information yourself, click here for the program information website. You’ll find answers to additional questions and a list of all qualifying models. When you’re ready to purchase and install a new toilet, give us a call and one of our licensed plumbers will be happy to help you with the installation process.