plumbing tips Category

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.

Choosing the Right Garbage Disposal: Features & Benefits

garbage disposalThe average garbage disposal is a sturdy beast and typically lasts at least 10 years before it needs replacement. So if you’re shopping for a new one now, it’s probably been some time since you’ve been up-to-date on the subject of garbage disposal technology. Features and benefits have changed quite a bit during that time and you have more choices to make. Here’s how to sort out what’s on the market today:


Higher-end disposals come with inductive motors that are more powerful—at least 1/2 horsepower and ranging up to 1 horsepower. The more powerful the motor, the more grinding power and the less likely you’ll experience jams or drain clogs. Inductive motors are also quieter. Budget-priced disposals typically come with 1/3 horsepower permanent magnet motors. Lower sticker price but higher rpm, meaning noisier and more likely to wear out sooner.

Grind Stages

  • One-stage disposals, usually the least expensive, limit all grinding to a single stage. Food is only ground once before being washed down the drain by water.
  • Two-stage disposals add a second stage that makes the grinding process much finer, basically liquefying many foods. This ensures that the food waste is fully flushed down the drain and reduces the probability of clogs in the disposal or in household drain pipes.
  • A three-stage model is usually the most expensive. In addition to liquefying stages, these disposals have very powerful motors to handle almost any food scraps including tough fibrous materials or hard objects like rib bones. Clogs are virtually eliminated and wear and tear is minimized.

Material Quality

Less expensive disposals are usually constructed with plastic or polymer grind chambers. Top of the line models, however, incorporate grind chambers and other critical components made of stainless steel for optimum corrosion protection, superior resistance to wear and a longer service life. For the lowest noise rating, select a disposal with built-in sound-muffling insulation and baffles, as well as anti-vibration sink mounts to reduce noise levels up to 50% over standard budget-priced units.

Ask the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing for more information about choosing the right garbage disposal.


Dealing with Low to No Water Pressure? What You Need to Know

If you turn on your faucets and notice a trickle where you should have a cascade, you know you have a water pressure problem. Luckily, troubleshooting low water pressure is easy to do.

low water pressureWhole-House Water Pressure Problems

Are you experiencing water pressure problems throughout your house? Assuming it’s a new problem and not one that came with the house, you’re probably looking at one of two issues:

  1. A problem with the municipal water supply. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do other than call your water supplier to determine if there’s a problem and ask them to fix it.
  2. A leak in your main line. To determine if you have a leak, shut off all your water valves, check the water meter, and then check it again in a few hours. If there’s a significant difference in the readings, you have a leak and should call a plumber.

Specific-Area Water Pressure Problems

Are you troubleshooting low water pressure in a specific area? If it’s just one faucet or shower head that’s having low pressure issues, you may have a simple fix on your hands. Most of the time, low water pressure in one fixture just indicates that you have sediment built up inside the nozzle. Unscrew the fixture and rinse it. (Tip: wrap the fixture in cloth before using a wrench to protect the finish.) If water still doesn’t flow freely, soak the fixture in vinegar, then scrub with an old toothbrush. If all else fails, you can usually find inexpensive replacements at the hardware store. Sometimes, low water pressure in a specific pipe might be caused by corrosion in the pipe. This is normal, especially if you have aging pipes. The only solution is to replace the corroded pipes. This job is often best left to a trained professional who can ensure that the job is done correctly and that your new pipes are up to code. For more information on troubleshooting low water pressure or any other HVAC issues, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve provided quality service to the Greater Cincinnati area since 1910.

Common Issues with Sump Pumps

A sump pump is a silent sentinel that guards your home against water damage. Installed in a covered basin in the basement floor, the pump senses the presence of water and automatically activates, pumping water up and out of the house to a discharge point, usually located in the backyard. A properly-sized pump protects your basement from water intrusion due to external sources like rising ground water and localized flooding or indoor sources such as a broken water supply line.

sump pumpBecause a sump pump is installed out of sight and usually inactive, malfunction in the pump or its activating mechanism may occur without being noticed. The pump will then fail to operate when you need it most. Annual professional maintenance and testing by a qualified plumber is critical.

Here are three common sump pump issues:

Clogged Intake

Debris in the sump basin, including dirt and gravel from the surrounding pit or objects swept in from the floor, may clog the pump intake screen and interfere with proper operation. A qualified plumber can drain the basin, remove debris, and inspect and clean the intake screen as part of annual maintenance.

Defective Float Switch

A float switch energizes the pump when water in the sump basin reaches a preset level, then turns it off again when the basin empties. If the float switch fails to properly detect water, the pump will not actuate and basement flooding may occur. If it doesn’t turn the pump off, the motor will burn out. During regular maintenance, a plumber will pour a measured quantity of water into the basin to verify proper float switch “on” and “off” response.

Frozen Discharge Line

Residual water in the outdoor portion of the discharge line may freeze and obstruct the flow from the sump pump, causing basement flooding. The discharge line should always be routed on a slightly downward grade to allow residual water to drain completely out of the line.

For regular annual maintenance to prevent and detect sump pump issues in greater Cincinnati contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Are These Myths Affecting the Plumbing in Your Cincinnati Home?

plumbing mythsLike a lot of things, you can’t always believe what you hear when it comes to the plumbing in your Cincinnati area home. In fact, you may have succumbed to a few plumbing myths in your lifetime without even realizing it. These are our favorites that often seem to plague homeowners: (more…)

Smelly Drains: What’s Causing Those Odors and How Can You Get Rid of Them?

smellly drainsSmelly drains, whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, can make a whole room less pleasant to be in. When rinsing your drains isn’t enough to keep odors away, there are other steps you can take. (more…)

Plumbing Myths Cincinnati Homeowners Shouldn’t Fall For

plumbing mythsPlumbing myths are the stuff of good story-telling but they can cost you money, too, if you believe them. Every technology has its fables and folk tales—like the old wives’ tale that dirty cars get better gas mileage than clean cars. The truth is, there’s not much about household plumbing that isn’t scientifically established by now and, while plumbing techniques and materials are constantly evolving, the basic principles are well-established. Take any tall tales you may hear with a grain of salt, but particularly watch out for these plumbing myths. (more…)

With Cold Weather Coming, Now’s the Time to Learn How to Avoid Frozen Pipes

avoid frozen pipesWinter brings extremely cold temperatures to the Cincinnati area, and this creates the risk of frozen pipes. When water freezes inside a plumbing pipe, it expands and blocks the line. Pressure gradually builds up between the blockage and the closed faucet at the end of the line, and when this pressure becomes too great, the pipe can rupture. Learning how to avoid frozen pipes before winter arrives can help you prevent unnecessary and costly damage to your home and its contents. (more…)

Draining Pipes in the Winter Months Can Help Prevent the Negative Effects of Freezing

draining pipesAs the weather starts to get cold in Cincinnati, you may wonder whether pipes will be safe when the temperature dips below freezing. You should drain pipes to prevent freezing, but how do you go about completing this task? Here’s everything you need to know as you’re about to drain pipes to prevent freezing this winter.

Why Drain Pipes?

Why is it important to drain pipes to prevent freezing this season? Here are some of the major problems that can be caused when you fail to complete this task.

  • Water in the pipes may get stuck and freeze in close quarters. The resulting ice has the potential to cause pipes to burst, which can cause water damage and require replacement. The replacement and repair process is expensive, so you should be proactive about avoiding this issue.
  • Frozen water in pipes can cause the pipes to expand. Even if pipes don’t burst, significant damage can be done in the winter.

How to Drain Pipes to Prevent Freezing

Here are steps you should take when you’re draining pipes before freezing weather arrives:

  • Make sure the water supply to pipes has been cut off. The main supply will have to be shut off during this process. If you’re uncertain about how to turn off the main supply, contact your water service provider or a plumber.
  • Flush the toilets in your home. Continue flushing until the water in the tank of the toilet is completely gone. Turn the faucets in sinks, showers and bathtubs on in order to drain this water.

Consulting a Professional

If you don’t feel comfortable preparing your home’s pipes for freezing weather, it’s best to consult a professional plumber.

To have a professional drain pipes to prevent freezing in your greater Cincinnati home, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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Prepare the Plumbing of Your Cincinnati Home With These Winterization Tips

winterization tipsCold, snowy winters are a reality in the greater Cincinnati area, so while you’re pulling out winter gear, putting on snow tires, and having heating equipment inspected and tuned, don’t forget about the pipes. Here are some plumbing winterization tips that can save you the damage, expense and inconvenience of a mid-winter disaster. (more…)