Tales from the Depths: Interesting Stories and Questions About Drain Cleaning

Stories from the Plumbing Front Lines:

In my years of networking (talking to people) specifically in the world of plumbing, I have gotten some pretty interesting questions and stories.

Here are some of my favorites:

Plumbing Question 1:

Does ROCK SALT kill roots in the sewer line?


Roots grow in from the TOP of the pipe through the natural seams in the sewer line? They can also grow in because of a porous clay pipe or through a break. If you pour rock salt in your drain, it will dissolve, just like salt dissolves in a glass of water. It may pool in a high concentration in the pipe. If the roots are big enough to be touching the bottom of the pipe, it is likely that rock salt is not going to solve the problem.

Our suggestions:

  1. Get your sewer line cleaned of roots with a 4” double bladed sewer machine (referred to as Roto-Rooter® or equivalent). This does require a professional in most cases.
  2. For preventative maintenance, use a foaming root killer that will each roots in the entire circumference of the sewer pipe. We recommend RootX® for drain cleaning.

Plumbing Story 1:

I am house sitting and the only one there, and I hear a loud noise all of a sudden and trace it to the bathroom where the cold water is on full blast. I turned the faucet off and called my handyman who found no leaks, no malfunctions, nothing. What’s your opinion as a plumber?

Well, plumbing is not mechanical — it must be turned on or off either manually or with a timer. The only time it doesn’t follow this rule is when there is a leak, when it will run anywhere using the easiest path. Since a faucet knob needs to be manually adjusted to turn on, and it is very unlikely or even practical to have it on a timer, my best suggestion: Hire Ghost Busters!

 Plumbing Story 2:

I was at a County fair and overate, resulting in overuse of the toilet, and it clogged. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t want to call anyone. My plunger didn’t work and just kept making a mess as the water came up and over the toilet. Why didn’t my plunger work?

Gross. Ok, I’m sure we have all had the “Toilet Clog Scare,” so let me address it. Yes, toilet clogs can happen for a variety of reasons, but they all involve something being stuck in the toilet. A good plunger should always be in every bathroom that is being used. A homeowner and building owner or facilities manager, for that matter, may want to consider getting something called an Auger. An Auger is about a 7 foot cable with a handle on the end that you can insert into the toilet. It goes much deeper than the plunger, and unlike the plunger that is using pressure to force the blockage through, you can spin the cable in the line to loosen anything clogging the space.

These can be purchased at the hardware store and are great for people who have frequent toilet clogs. Note here, they don’t work on toys, brushes or cell phones that may have fallen in and clogged the line… for that, you may need a professional as it could include needing to pull the toilet up.

Do you have a question you would like clarified? A plumbing related story to share? Please do!

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