Drain Clog: When to Call a Plumber?

Nothing can be more frustrating than a clogged drain, whether it’s in the kitchen sink or bathroom toilet. Of course, this always happens at the most inconvenient time. How do you know when your clog requires the expertise of a plumber? If only a single fixture is clogged and the rest of your drains seem to be draining well, then the clog is close to the clogged fixture and you may be able to unclog it yourself.   Avoid caustic drain cleaners – these can damage your pipes, cause chemical burns, and if the clog does not respond, you will be left with a sink or toilet full of caustic chemicals.   Some clogs will quickly loosen with the use of a plunger or a household drain snake. If all of your efforts fail to unstop the clog, call a plumber.

If more than one fixture in your home is clogged, you may be experiencing a main sewer line clog. The main sewer line is the line through which all of your plumbing exits your home, either to the city’s municipal sewer system or your private septic system. If you are seeing dirty water backing up from more than one fixture at the same time, this is a clear indication of a main line clog. For instance, when the water drains out of your washing machine, it may back up into a sink or toilet. In the lowest level of your home, a floor drain may back up when an interior toilet is flushed.

If these types of “system-wide” backups are occurring, you should call a reputable local plumber to have the problem repaired.  Your plumber will be equipped with commercial grade sewer snakes, high pressure hydro-jetting equipment, and other professional drain cleaning equipment.  They can clear the clog without damaging your system and may also be able to advise you on how to prevent future problems.

Clogged Shower Drains

Nobody likes getting into the shower, lathering up and then realizing that the shower drain is draining slowly – or worse, not draining at all. The common culprit for slow drains is human hair, which is normally caught in the strain cover. Normally all you have to do is clean out the strainer and check the flow of water. More serious clogged drains should be handled by a plumbing professional, but it’s also worth trying a few simple steps to unclog the drain.

The first step is to see how easily the strainer can be removed, whether it snaps into place or is removed by a screwdriver. Once it’s removed and pulled away, grab a flashlight and check for any clogs that you can see. If you spot anything obstructing your view, try to remove it with wire or other tool, and gently remove it without pushing the clog deeper into the pipe.

If this isn’t a feasible solution, an alternative is using a plunger. Pour or run water around the plunger’s head to create a tight seal, and create a force of suction by pushing and pulling the handle up and down at a fast, steady speed. Make sure you never use a plunger after pouring a chemical solution down the drain. A second alternative is a wire snake, which has a hook on the end – run it down your drain, and when it hits the clog, turn the crank to snag it into the clog before pulling it free.

If none of these solutions are enough to get rid of the clog, your last option is to call a professional plumber in your area, who will have other alternatives to remove almost any pesky clog.

What’s Missing in Kitchen Sinks: The Overflow

For those who have traveled outside of the United States, they may notice that other countries have overflows in their kitchen sinks just like in the bathtub and bathroom sink.  So, why don’t we have them?

We Don’t Need Them

The simple truth is that it isn’t required by regulation or code so most manufacturers just don’t make them.  Having an overflow can cause a sanitation hazard as food gets trapped inside.  This could become a serious issue and require continual calls to a plumber to fix.  While European designers have addressed the issue by making it easier to get to the overflow to clean, American manufacturers have chosen not to have them at all.

The Purpose of An Overflow

The overflow is there to prevent a disaster on the floor if you forget to shut off the water.  In a tub, you can walk away while it is filling and an overflow prevents a mess for when you return.  These accidents just don’t happen that often in a kitchen sink.

European designers have been making their sinks that way for years and probably have just continued on because it is tradition.  Homeowners may expect to see an overflow in their kitchen sinks and manufacturers have just continued to make them.  In America, it is more of a case of “you can’t miss what you never had.”

If you need to update or install a new kitchen sink, you can work with your local plumber to determine the right design for you.  They can help you locate a kitchen sink that meets codes and fits in with your design.

Garbage Disposal Basics

Garbage disposals are a useful appliance that can help make kitchen clean up a breeze.  Before you buy a new garbage disposal, there are a few things you need to know.  First, there are two types of garbage disposals: batch feed garbage disposals and continuous feed garbage disposals.

A batch feed disposal is designed to be loaded with kitchen waste before running.  After it has run, it gets flushed and loaded with the next batch of waste.  Batch feed disposals will only run when the sink stopper is in place.  This feature makes batch feed garbage disposals a little safer than continuous feed garbage disposals. However, it also takes a little longer to dispose of waste.  Also, batch feed garbage disposals are a little more expensive than continuous feed units.

A continuous feed garbage disposal is faster and more convenient to use than a batch feed model because it runs constantly as long as the switch is turned on.  There is no lid or stopper that has to be in place so you can feed fresh kitchen waste into a continuous feed garbage disposal as fast as it can grind it up.

Both types of garbage disposal come in different sizes.  The smallest size uses a 1/3 horsepower motor the most powerful garbage disposers commonly available for residential use have 1 horsepower motors.  The larger the motor, the more kitchen waste the disposal can grind and the less likely it is to jam.  In addition, higher horsepower models are generally quieter and offer more features than smaller garbage disposals.

Make sure your sink can hold the weight of the garbage disposal you are considering.  Thin gauge steel sinks may not be able to support the largest sized disposals.  Professional garbage disposal installation by a reputable plumber will help ensure the disposal works properly and lasts for years.

Causes of Sewer Line Failures

A sewer line typically gives good service for decades, but many older sewer lines, especially those made from clay, cast iron, or Orangeburg pipe, will eventually need to be replaced.  Orangeburg pipe is made from a fibrous material and was used for sewer laterals in millions of homes until the late 1960s.  It is notorious for deforming and collapsing after about 20 to 40 years of use.

Cast iron and clay pipes will usually last longer than Orangeburg, but all of these pipes share a common problem – they all have joints where tree roots can enter.  Some of these sewer laterals will collapse or break due to ground shifting or other causes, but the most common problem in all of these sewer lines is damage due to tree root infiltration through the joints. Proper installation can minimize the problem but over time the ground can shift which causes the joints to loosen slightly and provides an entry point for tree roots.

Once inside the sewer line, tree roots collect paper, grease, and other debris and cause the pipe to clog.  The clogs can be removed by your plumber or sewer-septic professional using an auger or high pressure hydro-jetting, but this is only a temporary solution.   Unless the tree is removed or the roots are treated with a herbicide, the roots will grow back and another clog will form.

Dealing with these clogs is a hassle, but an even bigger problem is that over time, the tree roots will expand and damage the pipe.  The expanding tree roots cause the joint to separate which allows more tree roots to enter, and eventually the tree roots can grow large enough to cause the pipe to crack or fracture.  When this happens, replacement or relining of the sewer line will be necessary.

Your plumber or sewer septic professional can use a video camera to inspect the inside of your sewer line and evaluate the extent of the damage.  Based on what they see, they can advise you on your sewer line repair or replacement options.

Advantages of a Whole House Water Filtration System

If you are not satisfied with the water quality in your home, you have a few options when it comes to great tasting drinking water.  Many people choose to buy bottled water, but over time bottled water can become very expensive.  Depending on what type of bottled water you buy, it can cost from 200 to 10,000 times more than tap water.  In addition, millions of gallons of oil are used to manufacture the bottles which then take up space in our landfills.

A much better solution is to filter the tap water to reduce the amount of chlorine, chemicals, metals and other contaminates in the water.  A sink mounted filter can do the job, but a whole house water filter installed by your Buckhead plumbers is a much better alternative.  With a whole house water filtration system, the water coming out of every tap in your home will be clean and purified.

Even the water in your showers, toilets, washing machine, and dishwasher will be cleaner and healthier.  You and your family will bathe in purified water and your clothes and dishes will be washed in purified water.  In addition, the indoor air quality in your home will be improved by a whole house water filter.  These filtration systems reduce the amount of chlorine that off-gasses from your water into your home and forms chloroform.

Your Buckhead plumbers can help you select and install a whole house water filter that is right for your home.  The system is installed at the point of entry of your water supply so all the water in your home is clean and safe.  You and your family will enjoy fresh, clean great tasting water!