How Do You Know It’s Time for a Sewer Replacement?

Thankfully, modern sewage disposal systems are designed to ensure that we never have to deal with waste the way our ancestors did, but because we’ve grown so used to our sewage systems working flawlessly, the moment a system incurs any sort of damage, we notice it. And it isn’t fun.

There are a few things to look for if you suspect sewer damage, so if you notice any of the following occurring in your home, please contact Garvin’s Sewer Service at your earliest convenience. We will be able to diagnose the issue and undertake whatever sewer replacement or repair may be necessary.

#1 Sewage Backups or Blockages

If your toilets are experiencing clogs or backflow of any sort on a consistent basis, there is a chance that the problem is with the sewer or drain rather than the commode itself. The same could be true for your sinks or bathtubs, so keep an eye out for apparent blockages, and call your plumber to have a closer look.

#2 Slow Drain

One sign of a blockage is slow drains, which could admittedly indicate something much less serious than a sewer issue, but if it’s all the drains and toilets in a house that seems to be draining slowly, the chances of the problem being sewer-related rise exponentially.

#3 Unpleasant Odors

If your sewer system is performing the way it should, you should not smell anything foul in or around your home. If you notice the smell of anything even remotely like a sewer inside or even outside of your home, there’s a chance there’s a problem somewhere you can’t see.

#4 Standing Water in Your Lawn

Even without the odor, standing water in your lawn could indicate a leak in a sewer line somewhere underneath the grass in your yard. There should not be soggy or raised patches of earth in your lawn. If there is, it’s possible the sewer line is the issue.

#5 Extra Green Grass

By the same token, extra water and the extra nutrients found in the surprise “fertilizer” working its way into your soil can help grass grow fuller, greener, and more lush—but only in patches. If you notice these patches in your yard where they haven’t been in the past, it’s worth calling your plumber to have a look at your sewer line.

#6 Septic Pooling

The worst symptom of potential sewer problems is septic pooling, which means it’s not standing water in your yard, but standing septic waste. That means a broken main line or septic tank, and on top of being disgusting, it also means you’ve got a big problem somewhere underground that only a professional plumber can fix.

When It’s Time to Contact a Professional

Garvin’s will give an honest assessment of your sewer line, cleaning it first to determine the severity of the issue, offering a camera service to pinpoint the problem area, and offering sewer repair/replacement in the cases where that is the best solution. Unlike other companies, sewer replacement isn’t our first step – in fact, we have saved Denver homeowners tens of thousands of dollars a year by cleaning and maintaining their sewer lines rather than replacing them.

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake | Garvin's Sewer Service

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake

For as long as there has been modern plumbing, pipes and drains have gotten clogged, and it never stops being frustrating for the people and/or families dealing with the problem. Floor drains—especially those located in basements—are especially susceptible to blockages since all the other water and waste from the house is carried downward by gravity to septic tanks or public sewers. Knowing that, we see a lot of floor drain clogs here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, and while we would love to help those in need with these types of problems, there are a few approaches homeowners can try before contacting an emergency drain cleaning service.

The Causes of Floor Drain Clogs

Before attempting to unclog a floor drain on your own, it’s worth knowing why these clogs happen in the first place. The most common issue occurs when sediment or waste accumulates in the pipes over time and creates a clog large enough to slow down the flow of the water. Other possible causes include broken or damaged pipes, water flow issues, or even pipes that were installed incorrectly in the first place. Sometimes, torrential storms can leave dirt and other sediment in the system that also can cause problems.

Whatever the cause, it’s a headache that can lead to bigger problems if left unattended.

How to Unclog a Floor Drain

While using a plumbing snake is usually the easiest way to tackle this (and again, Garvin’s Sewer Service is happy to provide this service), there are a few other things homeowners can try.

Clean the Trap

The first step in getting your floor drain to work as it was intended is to clean out the trap. To do this, locate the backflow preventer in your basement, remove its cap, then get a chisel and drive it around the notches in the retaining ring. Loosen the ring and the backflow ball, and then use a shop vac to suck out all the nasty sediment in the trap, which likely is part of what’s causing the problem.

After cleaning the trap, remove the backflow preventer’s cleanout plug and connect strong wire or cable to a power drill so you can spin it into the pipe opening. This should clear the clog and get your water flowing again.

Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

Sometimes, baking soda and vinegar can unclog a drain if the blockage isn’t especially stubborn. Start by pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain, followed by ½ cup baking soda. Let that sit a few minutes, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of very hot water on top of the baking soda. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then flush it one last time with another pot of boiling water.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

If that doesn’t work, it might be time to call someone here at Garvin’s Sewer Service to handle the clog for you. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners because they send toxic material into the sewers, and these chemicals can even corrode older plumbing systems. If chemicals are necessary, allow professionals to be the ones who use them.

When It’s Time to Call a Professional

If you have a basement drain blockage that won’t unclog, never hesitate to call Garvin’s Sewer Service. If you can’t do it safely yourself, we will get your basement drain unclogged and functioning properly again in no time.

Drain cleaning services from Garvin's Sewer Service Englewood & Denver CO

Five Reasons Not to Try Do-It-Yourself Drain Cleaning

When a drain gets severely clogged, the first instinct should be to call a professional plumbing service to help clear up the issue, but we all know that isn’t necessarily where many people head first. No, some folks would rather try dealing with the clog themselves in an attempt to save money, but here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we have seen many nightmare scenarios that have resulted in much bigger and more expensive problems.

For a number of reasons, it is not always a good idea to take the DIY approach to cleaning out a clogged drain.

#1 Liquid Drain Cleaners Aren’t Always the Best Option

There are so many reasons that professional plumbers do not recommend the use of liquid drain cleaners, not the least of which is their overall toxicity, which is awful for the environment. From a more local viewpoint, however, these cleaners can actually cause damage to your plumbing pipes thanks to the corrosive acids that work to unblock those clogs. A professional plumber with professional tools won’t cause these same problems.

#2 The Problem Might Be Bigger Than You Think

And in terms of problems, a do-it-yourself enthusiast can’t possibly have any idea of the scope of the problem is lying beneath their sink. Without knowing the exact cause of the clog, it can be rather challenging to know how to approach fixing it. Grime buildup and solid masses are too much for a DIYer to do themselves, which is why bigger problems need careful consideration and professional help.

#3 You Could Risk Further Damage (and Cost!)

Without knowing the ins and outs of professional pipe maintenance and cleaning, there is a fair chance that you could actually cause even more harm to your pipes than the issue at hand. In an attempt to save money, you could actually create an even pricier problem that could have been avoided entirely had a pro been contacted in the first place.

#4 DIY Is a Big Time Investment

Calling a professional allows homeowners to carry on with their lives without having to invest the better part of a day (or longer) figuring out how to approach a do-it-yourself project that may or may not end the way they want it to. Since DIY is such a big time investment, why not just pay someone to do that work for you?

#5 Professional Techniques & Equipment Yield Professional Results

The professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service flat-out have access to professional tools and techniques that amateurs do not, which means we can do things the way they were meant to be done. Remember, it’s not just about finishing the project, but doing it in a way that holds up over time so other problems don’t follow at some random time in the future.

If you find yourself in need of a professional drain cleaning service, give us a call here Garvin’s Sewer Service. We will be happy to help clear up your plumbing issues in a way that is efficient, affordable, and backed by a professional guarantee. Pros are pros for a reason. Don’t take the risk of fixing a drain yourself when better trained people are happy to make sure the job gets done the right way.

The Most Common Spring Plumbing Issues, Garvin's Sewer Service, Denver, CO

The Most Common Spring Plumbing Issues

While winter brings more than its fair share of plumbing problems, the spring can be just as problematic, especially at the outset when warmer weather reveals the havoc winter wreaked, and occasional cold snips following a few warm days cause new problems of their own.

Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we want our customers to be aware of what could be going wrong with their plumbing once spring comes so they can recognize the problems quickly and get a professional to their property to get things back up and running the way they should.

The following are the most common spring plumbing problems:

#1 Clogged Outdoor Drains

Ideally, homeowners would have taken care of fallen leaves, sticks, and other blockages in their gutters and outdoor drains before winter ever hit in the first place, but if that wasn’t the case, all the winter precipitation may have packed all that organic debris even tighter, making for quite a headache come spring. These types of blockages can send water from spring rains into unexpected places, which can create significant drainage issues. Sometimes, the obstruction is so significant it requires the assistance of a professional to correct.

Garvin’s clears drainage issues with outdoor drains such as French drains, trench drains, sand traps and more (both commercial and residential).

#2 Leaky Pipes

It is possible for pipes to develop leaks over the course of winter that don’t necessarily show themselves until spring. Pipe materials shrink in freezing temperatures, creating cracks that can temporarily be filled by frozen water. When that ice melts, however, the leaks become apparent, perhaps causing water damage and affecting water pressure in your home. If you think this may be something you’re experiencing this spring, call Garvin’s Sewer Service to fix those leaky pipes.

#3 Line Obstructions

With spring comes new life, which usually is a good thing—except when plant roots split main and sewer lines, causing the sorts of obstructions that are frustrating for homeowners that need those lines clear to function properly. As trees leave their dormant stage, roots spread out and work themselves into vulnerable pipes, causing poor water pressure and slow drainage.

#4 Poor Drainage

That poor drainage can come as a result of an obstructed main line, but there are other reasons why your fixtures may be draining slowly by the time spring rolls around. Winter is a time filled with big holiday meals and visiting house guests, which can mean all sorts of extra foreign items going down your drains and causing clogs that aren’t common at other times of year. Because these types of obstructions often are out of reach for most customers, a professional with professional instruments is the best way to correct the problem.

Schedule a Service Appointment

If you experience any of these issues by the time spring rolls around, contact the professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service to come have a look. Your plumbing repair service should be a quick and easy one, but even if the job is bigger, we can help make the required repairs to get you water running and behaving the way it did before winter cold and spring growth did their damage.

Flushable not flushable

Why Only Flush Toilet Paper?

Like most women, you have been to a bathroom, whether private or public, and a sign has been prominently displayed in the stall that reads: “Please don’t flush anything but toilet paper”. While this seems straightforward, it is still confusing, especially because we are told certain products are “flushable”, including tampon cores, wipes, and paper towel. So, what’s the deal?

If you’ve ever owned a home, you have likely had the unpleasant experience of a sewer line back up. It may have started with a toilet gurgle, or may have just surprised you with a basement puddle of sewage. You likely contacted a sewer cleaning company and had them take care of the problem. Often, but not always, the sewer technician will let you know what caused the problem – tree root overgrowth, tampons, and too much paper tend to be the biggest culprits. Let’s talk more about each so you can understand why just because something says it’s flushable, it doesn’t mean it is wise to do so.

Tree Root Overgrowth

The trees in your yard, or even your neighbor’s yard, can grow into the porous material of your sewer line, especially at sewer line joints. These roots act as a strainer, capturing debris and usually letting water pass. Of course, water won’t be able to flow through once too much debris has collected. This is why what you flush matters – anything that doesn’t quickly and easily break down runs the risk of being grabbed and held onto including…

Toilet Paper

All toilet papers are designed to break down in sewer and septic systems. Plush and ultra types of toilet paper tend to take longer to disintegrate and often absorb water, turning them into globs of paper before they hit the city sewer main. Clumps of this toilet paper don’t pass as easily through your home’s pipes and sit in your line like spit wads on elementary school ceilings. Add sewer roots to the mix and you can see why the wrong toilet paper can be a problem.

Tampons

Tampons, not the applicators (which most women know are not flushable), but the cotton/rayon tampon itself, is not to be flushed. Yes, they are small enough to make it through the waste lines, but don’t dissolve or breakdown like paper products do. Instead, wrap them in toilet paper like you do feminine pads and dispose of them in the trash. Again, if roots are in the line, they will grab the tampons and cause a clog. Without roots, tampons can still sit in the line, catch other debris, and prevent water from passing through.

Other Items

Other items that say they are flushable, but really can cause problems in your sewer include wipes and paper towels. They are both made out of paper, so will dissolve, but they don’t do it quickly. Instead, they are more cloth like, creating large clogs.

Overall, if it can go in the trash, rather than down the drain, it’s better to throw it away. This includes items like dental floss, cotton balls/swabs and similar items.

Bottom Line

Whether or not is says it is flushable, do your best to limit toilet waste to septic friendly paper and human waste. Anything more can result in messy sewer line back-ups and unneeded frustrations. If you experience recurring clogs or back-ups, ask your sewer line technician what steps you can take to reduce them.

Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver and Boulder resident’s home and business plumbing drain cleaning needs for over 75 years! Give us a call today if we can help you with your sewer or plumbing needs at 303-571-5114.

 

Preventing Clogged Drains by Changing Daily Habits

Preventing Clogged Drains by Changing Daily Habits

Nobody likes a clogged drain, not only because they can be pretty disgusting to clean out but also because in the wrong situation, they can stop some of the primary functions of your home and put a lot of water on your floor. Knowing how much people dislike these types of clogs, then, it’s a wonder that more people do not change some of their daily habits when those very habits are the reason clogs are forming in the first place.

Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we are happy to unclog a drain or provide any sort of drain cleaning service, but we also encourage our customers to shift a few daily habits. Here’s what we suggest to keep your drains clearer moving forward:

#1 Avoid Letting Food Scraps Go Down the Drain

Obviously, garbage disposals can handle some food, but if your drain doesn’t have a disposal, do not force food scraps down drains they were not intended to accommodate. Dump your table scraps in the garbage whenever possible to avoid food-related clogs in your kitchen sink.

#2 Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain

Another common mistake people make in their kitchens centers around grease. While it may be easier to just dump used cooking oil or old hamburger grease down the drain, this can cause major clogs and buildup over time. Instead, use an old jar or can to dump grease and throw it away in the trash.

#3 Clean Drain Stoppers in Bathroom

There really is no stopping hair and dirt from getting stuck inside of certain types of drain stoppers, so make it a habit to clean out those stoppers regularly. The more often you do it, the less likely it will be that the hair will build up so thick that it will clog your drain in a way that’s not so easy to clean out.

#4 Other Than Toilet Paper, Don’t Flush Paper Products

Put simply, don’t use your toilet as a trash can. Flushing toilet paper obviously is fine, but flushing other paper products, feminine products, or just trash, in general, can be the sort of thing that gets stuck in the toilet drain. Of all the back-ups that can occur, a clogged toilet may be the least pleasant to clean.

#5 Consider Using Drain Screens

One simple solution to a lot of these problems is to switch out the types of drains you’re using in the first place. Kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, showers, and bathtubs all can integrate drain screens to capture debris long before it makes its way into your drains. Stopping the problem at the source is the best and easiest option.

Contact a Trusted Englewood, CO Plumber

If you and your family are able to change just these few habits, there is a very good chance that you will not deal with the same types of drain clogs that have been plaguing your home for years. Of course, if you ever do bump into a drain issue that you can’t take care of yourself, never hesitate to reach out to Garvin’s Sewer Service. We’ll get everything back up and running in no time.