clogged drain Category

Preventing Drain Problems from Tree Roots

drain pipe clogged with tree rootsYour sewer drain system is vulnerable to invasion. Trees growing near the underground sewer line on your property send out long feeder roots in search of nutrients. Because a sewer pipe contains water and organic waste it’s a prime target for these small but powerful roots. Many older homes were built with sewer piping that is especially prone to the effects of tree root intrusion—clay pipes with mortar-filled joints and concrete pipes, in particular. However, almost any pipe with seams can be invaded by aggressive tree roots. Once they intrude into the pipe, clogs form due to expanding root growth and expensive, messy sewage backups into the house are the inevitable result.

The best control of tree root issues is prevention. Here are some things you can do to stop tree root infiltration of the sewer drain system before it happens.

Landscape Carefully

  • Be aware of the path of your underground sewer line (a plumber can tell you where it is.) Avoid planting trees directly above or near the pipe.
  • Choose trees with naturally less aggressive root systems. Fast-growing tree species are particularly likely to send invading feeder roots into sewer lines. A local nursery or the horticulture department at a nearby college can provide information on non-aggressive tree species that grow well in your local climate.
  • If you already have fast-growing trees on your property near the sewer line, consider removing them.

Replace Vulnerable Pipes

Old clay or concrete sewer pipes common in many areas can be replaced with seamless HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe in a trenchless pipe process that requires little excavation. With an extremely long service life and no seams that roots can exploit, HDPE pipes are very unlikely to experience tree root problems.

Get Regular Inspections

Every three years, have a qualified plumber inspect your sewer drain system utilizing micro-video technology to visually survey the entire interior length of the pipe. If evidence of tree root invasion is noted, early intervention can prevent clogs and backups.

For professional service to prevent sewer drain problems from tree roots, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

Drain Clearing: When to Throw in the Towel & Call a Pro

plumber drain clearingA clogged or slow drain may require professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati — or not. What it takes to resolve common clogs differs greatly from house to house. Some will be cleared by basic DIY methods while others resist the do-it-yourself approach and require drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati. What are the factors that make the difference?

The Clogged Trap

If debris washed down the drain has accumulated in the p-trap—that u-shaped bend in the pipes just below the sink—you may be able to restore proper drain function yourself.

First try a standard drain plunger. If a few rounds of vigorous plunging don’t work and you’re handy, you may try to clean the trap manually. A PVC p-trap can usually be readily removed by loosening the large slip nuts on either side of the trap and pulling the trap down and off the drain pipes. Clean out the trap and reinstall, hand tightening the slip nuts. Check drain function.

If the clog persists, avoid the temptation to pour caustic drain cleaners down the drain which may damage your pipes and cause expensive repair bills. Now’s the time for professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati to deal with these issues:

Deeper Clogs

Debris past the p-trap, deeper in the drain system, usually resists plunging. Consumer-grade household drain snakes, meanwhile, often aren’t long enough to reach it and/or may not get past sharp bends in the pipe. Professional intervention and equipment is required.

Sludge Accumulation

This gooey concoction of soap scum and grease accumulates in drain pipes and eventually stops flow of waste water. Plunging is ineffective and/or use of a drain snake only pokes a hole in the sludge, which quickly closes again and the clog recurs. A plumber can dissolve sludge with hydro-jetting technology that cleans the inside of the pipe with high-pressure hot water or utilize power-rodding equipment with rotating mechanical blades to scour internal pipe surfaces and restore drain function.

When professional drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati is what’s required to clear a clog, contact the experts at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

Clogged Drain in the Kitchen? It Could Be the Garbage Disposal

Water backing up in a sink with a garbage disposal might be from a clog in the drain pipe below — or a clog in the disposal unit itself. Tough, sinewy food matter that doesn’t belong in a disposal sometimes gets washed down into the unit. Another frequent cause of garbage disposal clogs is feeding too much dry material into the unit without running sufficient water to flush it past the disposal and down the drain pipe. You shouldn’t pour caustic chemicals into a garbage disposal as damage may result. Before you call the plumber, however, here are some things to try if you suspect a clogged garbage disposal.

garbage disposalIf the clog seems to be located in the drain pipe below it — the disposal turns on and runs freely but standing water remains in the sink — plunging the disposal with a common household plunger may work. Make sure there are a few inches of standing water in the sink to make a good seal, turn on the disposal and plunge the drain opening vigorously.

If you turn on the disposal and hear nothing — or you hear only a loud hum but the unit doesn’t turn — the clog is probably inside the inner workings of the unit, and plunging won’t work.

Unclogging Using a Hex Wrench

  • A hex wrench supplied with all disposals can be used to manually rotate the inner mechanism of the unit and possibly clear the obstruction.
  • Lay down beneath the disposal and insert the hex wrench into the socket on the bottom of the unit. Rotate the wrench back and forth rapidly several times to break up the obstructing material.
  • Remove the hex wrench and turn on the disposal. If you hear it running, flush the unit with hot water for a minute or so while it runs to flush the blockage down the drain pipe.
  • If the disposal makes only a humming sound or no sound at all, you’ll need a qualified plumber to dismantle the unit and clear the clog.

For professional service to resolve garbage disposal clogs contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electric and Plumbing.

What to Do About a Clogged Drain in Your Kitchen

A clogged drain in your kitchen is different from a clogged bathroom sink or shower drain. Instead of clotted hair or built-up soap residue, the usual causes for a clogged drain in your kitchen are accumulation of grease or food fragments in the sink trap. Prevention of clogs is always preferable, of course. Don’t pour liquid grease down the sink — it solidifies in the trap. Also, avoid washing food scraps or other substances like coffee grounds down the drain. The trap effectively “traps” these objects and clogging eventually results.

Avoid use of caustic drain openers. The damage they may inflict on your plumbing could be expensive. Instead, try these two DIY methods. If you still can’t clear the obstruction, contact a qualified local plumber.

clogged drain in your kitchen	Plunge It

If you’re unclogging a double sink, seal the other sink opening with the sink stopper or a wet washcloth. Add a few inches of hot water to the sink and position the bell of the sink plunger directly atop the clogged drain opening. Plunge vigorously with a straight up and down motion for a minute, then remove the plunger. If the sink doesn’t drain, try again. Still no luck? If you’re DIY-capable, you may want to disassemble the trap under the sink.

Clean Out the Trap

Place a bucket beneath the U-shaped trap in the drain pipe under the sink. Loosen the two large slip nuts securing the trap in the pipe. If they can’t be loosened by hand, be careful not to apply too much force with a wrench. Get a plumber if they’re stubborn. Pull downward gently to remove the trap from the sink tailpiece, then pull it off the drain pipe leading into the wall. Clean grease, food scraps and other debris out of the trap and reinstall. Hand tighten the slip nuts securely, then run water and check for leaks.

Now What?

If the sink still doesn’t drain freely, you’ve got a clog somewhere deeper in the drain system. Call a plumber.

For professional plumbing services to clear a clogged drain in your kitchen, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electric and Plumbing.

3 Ways to Prevent Clogged Drains

Smelly drains are drains that are likely to clog. That unpleasant odor wafting up from the sink usually indicates that the drain pipe is harboring sludge. It’s a gooey concoction of decaying organic material that has been washed down the sink or bathtub, combined with soap residue.

clogged drain Sludge accumulation gradually narrows the diameter of drain pipes, slowing the flow of waste water and generating odors. In addition, as water flow through the pipe decreases, clogs become increasingly more likely. A clogged, sludge-filled drain pipe may be temporarily opened by do-it-yourself methods like using a common plunger. However, clogs are likely to recur soon as long as the sludge residue remains.

In addition, as water flow through the pipe decreases, clogs become increasingly more likely. A clogged, sludge-filled drain pipe may be temporarily opened by do-it-yourself methods like using a common plunger. However, clogs are likely to recur soon as long as the sludge residue remains. Drain cleaning by a qualified plumber is usually required for a permanent solution to chronic clogging.

The best way to prevent smelly drains and accompanying clogs is to avoid the accumulation of sludge in the first place by practicing good “drain hygiene.” Here are some helpful tips:

  • Watch what goes into the drain. Avoid washing large food scraps down the drain—even if you have a disposal. Store grease in a container and throw it out with the trash. Don’t pour it into the sink. The same goes for coffee grounds.
  • Install drain hair strainers in bathtubs and showers and clear hair out of them weekly.
  • For regular DIY preventive maintenance, once a month pour about a cup of baking soda into each drain. Follow it with two cups of boiling water. After a few minutes, add another cup of baking soda, then a cup of white vinegar. Wait another few minutes, then flush the drain clear with more boiling water.

In addition to those indoor plumbing practices, every few years have your main sewer line outside checked by a plumber to ensure that sewage is flowing freely. Tree roots and other blockages can gradually restrict the flow and reflux sewage and odors back into the house.

For professional service to deal with smelly drains and the clogs that usually follow, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

DIY Drain Cleaning? 3 Things That Could Go Wrong

Once you confront a household drain that won’t clear with a common plunger, it may be time to seek professional drain cleaning from a qualified plumber. The fact is, other DIY options all have potential drawbacks, and may, at the least, only delay seeking the trained expertise required to open the drain. In the worst case scenario, do-it-yourself attempts may damage plumbing and cause added repair expense. Here are three common DIY strategies that may only make things worse:

professional drain cleaningOver-Reliance On Caustic Chemicals

Residential plumbing isn’t fabricated to withstand the effects of sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid—the two most common chemical drain openers. These substances are formulated to dissolve organic clogs; however, repeated use can also deteriorate galvanized steel, copper, and PVC, the most common drain pipes in residential use. The worse the clog, the more likely it is that chemical drain cleaners will damage your pipes. Since there’s no water flow through a totally obstructed drain to dilute the chemical, the pipe is subjected to concentrated exposure to any caustic substance poured down the drain.

Damaging Power Snakes

It happens when inexperienced do-it-yourselfers rent power snakes to unclog drains. These industrial-strength units put a great deal of stress on aging residential pipes or joints, and in untrained hands, may actually rupture drain lines. Instead of resorting to the heavy-duty snake, a qualified professional plumber dealing with a clogged residential pipe may opt instead for hydro-jetting equipment that uses high-pressure water jets to clear clogged drains without traumatizing the plumbing.

Mistaken Diagnosis

Water accumulating in a tub or sink may not actually be the result of a clogged drain pipe that you can clear yourself. An obstructed sewer line out in your front yard may cause drain water from elsewhere in the home to back up into other fixtures. All the plunging, snaking, and drain cleaning chemicals in the world won’t open the drain, because the problem’s in your sewer.

Avoid the downsides of DIY approaches by contacting Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for professional drain cleaning.

Advanced Issues that Impact Your Home’s Drains

When you run into a persistently slow drain, strange noises coming plumbing fixtures, or water backing up from the drains, you may need professional drain and sewer cleaning. While you can probably clear a simple clog using a plunger, snake or plumbing-safe drain cleaners, a plumbing pro can quickly identify and fix more serious problems.

  • drain and sewer cleaningPlugged plumbing vent. A clogged plumbing vent will slow or stop your home’s drainage. A toilet that gurgles or bubbles is usually the first indicator of a blockage inside a vent stack. Birds can nest inside them, rodents may get stuck, or dead leaves can collect in the vents over time. The blockage may be sudden or gradual, and unless your roof is easy to access, you may need the expertise of a plumber to evaluate and clear the vents.
  • Tree roots. Whenever a sewer line leaks, either at its fittings or from the line itself, trees naturally seek out the moisture. Over time, the roots can penetrate through the smallest holes in the pipes, eventually growing to the point where they block the line. The fastest way to eliminate them is through professional drain and sewer cleaning. Plumbers can use hydro-jets or special augers to remove the roots.
  • Collapsed sewer pipes. Older homes tend to have more problems with sewer lines that collapse due to rust or rot. If your home was built during WWII, it’s possible that the sewer line was made from Orangeberg, a rigid, tar-paper pipe used instead of cast iron because of the high demand for metal during WWII. Over time, cast iron pipes can also collapse, due to invasive tree roots or corrosion.

Since your home’s drainage and wastewater system isn’t visible to the eye, plumbers use video cameras to identify the blockages and repair them. New techniques and products are available that eliminate the need to trench your yard, which saves time and money.

To learn more about drain and sewer cleaning, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, providing comprehensive home services for greater Cincinnati homeowners since 1910.

Avoid Common Garbage Disposal Issues With These Dos and Don’ts

garbage disposals-under sink adjustment, Cincinnati, OhioGarbage disposals are useful kitchen appliances because they mean less food fermenting in your trash can. But there are some best practices for homeowners to pay attention to, as the disposal features sharp blades that chop and grind food waste and can be dangerous if used improperly. (more…)

4 Plumbing Tips Every Cincinnati Homeowner Should Know

plumbing tips, Cincinnati, OhioWhile there are times when a service professional is necessary, it’s also a good idea to learn how to maintain your home’s plumbing yourself. Here are four basic plumbing tips to help keep your Cincinnati home’s fixtures functioning properly.  (more…)

Clogged Drain Finally Cleared? Now Treat It Right for Fewer Issues

clogged drains, Cincinnati, OhioA clogged drain can be inconvenient as well as unhealthy, with that murky water filling your sink or tub. However, your work’s not done after the plumber gets the water flowing smoothly again. Good drainage requires regular maintenance. (more…)