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How a Plumber Can Help You after a Flood

If your home has flooded, your first concern is creating a safe environment. Stop the source of the flood, if possible.  During and after the flood, keep children and pets out of the affected area. Once the flood is under control, remove all of the furniture and other items affected by the flood waters.

After the initial cleanup is complete, you’ll need to check for hidden issues related to the flood. A plumber can help you determine if any serious damage was done or if there are any secondary problems related to the flood. Here’s what they’ll look for:

Drain Clogs

Flood water is dirty water and as it recedes, it leaves behind residue that can clog drains. If flood water covered a drain, you’ll want to have it checked for residue. This residue is easily removed and clogs are usually simple to undo, as long as you deal with them shortly after the flood. Waiting can result in further buildup and make the clog worse.

Broken Pipes

Pipes can be cracked or broken during a flood, especially if it was caused by a violent natural disaster, such as a hurricane. Unfortunately, small cracks can be difficult to identify until the problem worsens and you end up with another flood. A professional plumbing inspection can find small cracks and other damage to pipes and deal with the issue before it develops into a larger problem.

Underground pipes can also be affected by flood waters because they are buried beneath over-saturated soil. It’s common for water and waste lines to be affected by a serious flood. In the days and weeks after the incident, watch for sink holes that could indicate a collapsed pipe near your home.

Foundation Issues

If a flood was serious enough, it can damage the foundation of your home. Once foundation shifts and cracks, it can damage the pipes under your home. If you’ve had foundation damage, you’ll need to have it repaired before repairing the pipes in your home.

Clean Up

Once your inspection is complete, you’ll want to thoroughly clean everything touched by flood waters. Many people choose to replace their plumbing fixtures and anything else affected by flood waters, even if these items are repairable.

Dealing with a flood and its aftermath can feel overwhelming. It helps to have the support of a professional who know what to look for and who can help you avoid future problems.

Plumbing Nightmares: Preventing a Clogged Toilet



There are few things worse than a clogged toilet. It’s inconvenient, it’s messy, it can be expensive to fix, and it’s gross.

The good news?  It’s also completely avoidable.

These tips will help you avoid clogged toilets and the frustration that comes with them.

Know What to Flush

The reason toilets clog is because things end up in them that shouldn’t. The only things that should ever be flushed are human waste and toilet tissue. Anything else and you’re likely to end up with a clog.

And don’t assume that if something doesn’t cause a backup immediately there won’t be a problem. There are plenty of times when flushing an inappropriate item leads to a clog a few weeks or months in the future.

What are some of the most common culprits for flushing-related clogs?

• Napkins and paper towels
• Sanitary products
• Floss
• Hair
• Facial tissues
• Wipes
• Coffee grounds and other food
• Medication
• Diapers

Unfortunately, some of these products are labeled “flushable” or safe for toilets. The only way to really know is to compare how they react when left in water. If they disintegrate like toilet paper, flushing should be safe. But if you’re unsure of what’s going to happen, you’re better off disposing of the item in your garbage can.

Getting Your Flush Right

Even items that are safe for toilets can sometimes cause clogs. Everyone has heard stories, or experienced themselves, of an overzealous toilet trainer who uses and flushes an entire roll of toilet paper.

Unfortunately, it’s not only little ones that overdo it with toilet paper. To avoid clogs, only use the proper amount and never flush large wads of toilet paper.

Keep the Area Free of Risks

Sometimes clogs happen by accident because items fall into the toilet. To reduce the risk for clogging, keep the area free from items that fit into the toilet.

This means you might want to move that shelf or storage container you have over the toilet. And keep the lid closed when the toilet is not in use.

Is Your Drain Slow?

Sometimes you can tell a clog is on its way, but there’s time to act before you’re dealing with an overflowing toilet.

Slow or weak flushing can be a sign of a clog. You should plunge as soon as you notice a problem, and definitely before people use the bathroom and add to the problem.

Also invest in a toilet plunger with a neck-like end that fits into the drain hole and forms an airtight seal.

If you’d like more tips for preventing toilet clogs or you have a clog you need help fixing, give us a call!

Sewer Backup Caused by Heavy Rain? Here’s What To Do!

drainage-pipe-1547589The rainy season can cause a number of problems for homeowners, including sewer backup. What happens if a sudden downpour or especially ferocious storm leaves you with inches or feet of water – potentially waste-water – in your basement?

Here’s what you can do:

First, it’s important to understand why these backups occur. Heavy rains mixed with other factors in your neighborhood can lead to disaster. For instance, if you live near a grassy area that was recently paved or formerly vacant land that’s under development, you should be on the lookout for problems if it rains harder than usual.

Protect Your Home from Danger

Next, if a backup does occur, realize you aren’t dealing with the usual type of flood. The water from a sewer backup can bring hazardous materials into your home, so you’ll want to take every precaution possible to keep your family and your home safe.

Never move into a flooded area if there is any chance a live electric current is present. This can be fatal, so don’t even risk it. Also keep in mind flooding can cause a pilot light to go out on a nearby appliance, which can cause gas to leak into the air. If you detect even the slightest smell of gas after a flood, call your utility provider immediately.

If the flood came from city sewer water, there actually isn’t much you can do to remedy the problem  other than wait it out.  Once the rain ends, the water level should return to normal and the water in your home will drain. Of course, you’ll need to deal with the cleanup, but as far as the water backup, it should recede on its own.

If you suspect your home is at risk for a sewer backup, make sure your trap plugs are tightly fitted to filter any sludge and debris from flood waters that pour into your home.

It’s also possible to have a backwater check valve installed if the house sewer is for sanitary use only. This can prevent water from flowing backward and prevent sewer backup from the public system. It will need to be cleaned twice per year, which is something you can do or you can contact a plumber to take care of.

A backwater check valve should be cleaned every 6 months to a year, a task easily performed by a non-professional by removing a few screws. No special tools or skills are required for maintenance on a backwater check valve.

If you’d like to know more about whether a backwater check valve could help you prevent damage in your home or you have other questions about your home’s plumbing system, give us a call!



How to Fix a Drain Clogged by Grease

greasy-1175882Most people know how important it is to not pour used greases from cooking down their drains, but not as many people are aware of all the ways bits of grease can make it into the drain. Unfortunately, because of the nature of grease, it builds up over time. Just tiny bits from your meals each week can result in a big problem over time, leaving you with a messy, smelly drain clog.

Grease is one of the most common causes of drain clogs. What you need to know about grease accumulation and how do you deal with a clog should one occur?

In addition to the gradual accumulation that occurs with grease, mixing it with other problems compounds the issue. The little bits of grease that build up unknowingly are mixed with the coffee grinds, egg shells, soap (especially those that contain animal fat as part of their ingredients), and other things that you put into your drain thinking there is no cause for concern. The problem is anything that comes into contact with grease just adds to the problem – greases is like a sticky web that causes a big mess of your plumbing.

How Do You Remove Grease Clogs?

Despite your effort to avoid grease build-up, it can still happen. And when it does you’ll eventually have a clog. What should you do about it?

Simple grease clogs might be fixable by flushing hot water combined with dish soap down your drain when you wash away food scraps. Some dish liquids will break of grease, but only if the buildup isn’t serious. If you’re trying to avoid buildup, flushing your drain with water and anti-greases buildup soaps can be helpful.

Caustic cleaners are more effective if your buildup is bad enough to cause a clog. You’ll need to use a generous amount of a caustic cleaner to get through dense accumulation and you’ll need to be patient – it can take an hour or more for caustic cleaners to clear a drain.

Keep in mind that frequent use of some products meant to clear a drain can corrode drain pipes over time. If you have recurrent problems with grease clogs, you’ll need to take a different approach.

Homemade cleaners can be effective and are safer for your pipes. A 1:1 ration of water and vinegar might be enough to clear a clog. Pour the boiling water and vinegar mixture down the drain, wait a few minutes, and follow up with more boiling water.

Unfortunately, some grease clogs are bad enough that no at-home remedy will do and you’ll need to call in a professional. Chances are you’ll get tips on how to avoid future clogs, but if not, ask for advice about what you should be doing and not be doing to keep your drains clear.

If you need help clearing a drain or you’re looking for ways to avoid grease clog problems, give us a call!

How to Keep Your Washing Machine Running

Your washing machine is the primary way you keep the process of doing the laundry at home convenient and efficient. Unfortunately, if your washing machine breaks down, dirty laundry piles up and you’re faced with a large repair bill.

The good news is there are things you can do to keep your washer up and running, and increase the likelihood it will last a long time.

washing machineMost people understand the basics of washing machine maintenance: keep an eye on washing machine hoses to make sure there are no cracks or blistering, keep an overflow pan beneath the washing machine in case of flooding, avoid overloading it during washing, and use as little detergent as possible. It’s also important to clean your machine about once a month and make sure gooey, liquid fabric softener doesn’t build up in the dispenser.

There are also a number of questions related to washing machine maintenance that come up often for homeowners. What are some of the things you need to know to make sure your washer lasts as long as possible?

Should the machine be level?

One of the most important things you can do with your washer to ensure it works efficiently and doesn’t malfunction is to keep it on level ground. This might mean moving it to a different space, but it’s worth it to ensure proper operation.

Will a front load washer work better?

Front load washing machines are more efficient than top loading machines. Initially they are more expensive, but the investment pays off over time (usually just a few years) because you save water, drying time, and detergent usage.

Why isn’t the warm water really warm?

In most cases, the warm water setting doesn’t get warm enough because the hot water mixing with the cold to create warm isn’t hot enough. Water that is extremely cold can also warm down the hot water too much as it enters the machine.

There are more recent washers with temperature sensors that help alleviate these problems, but in some cases, it’s the water inlet valve’s restrictions creating an issue. You might also have sediment build up on the screen.

How do I know what “overloading” is for my washer?

In most cases for a top loading washing machine, you want the clothes to be loose against the agitator. Any time they are packed in it’s too much. In front loading washer, you can load until it’s full, but make sure there isn’t too much packing or compression.

How do I know I’ve used too much detergent?

One of the primary indicators you’re overdoing it on detergent is the remainder of soap suds at the end of a cycle. The best way to get the right detergent amount is to cut whatever you are using right now in half. If clothes aren’t clean with this amount, gradually increase what you’re using a little at a time until you get clean clothes.

Do I really need to follow the washing suggestions provided by clothing manufacturers?

Yes! Whether it’s water temperature, cycle suggestions, or turning clothing inside out before washing, make sure you are reading labels and following the instructions provided. Turning clothing inside out reduces pilling and extends the life of some fabrics. It can also protect decals, embroidery, and other embellishments on clothing.

If you’d like to know more about increasing the life span or improving the performance of your washing machine, or you need help with repairs, give us a call!

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