Happy New Years! Make a Resolution To Take Care of Your Plumbing

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On behalf of Garvin’s Sewer Service, we’d like to wish you a happy and healthy new year! 2017 will make the 77th year that Garvin’s has been serving the people of Denver and all along the Front Range. We started with rooter service back in the days of less-than-awesome public plumbing, continued with excellent drain cleaning, and then continued our growth with full plumbing services.

As we’ve done for the past seven decades, Garvin’s has resolved to take care of the people of the Front Range when it comes to their plumbing and sewer problems. But we’re also dedicated to helping our neighbors avoid problematic plumbing as much as possible. That’s where this blog comes in, helping you make the best decision when it comes to your freshwater and wastewater. Let’s take a look at some simple resolutions that can make your life easier in 2017.

Compost!

Strangely, composting is one of the most effective ways to take care of your drains and prevent the need for constant drain cleaning. The fact is, garbage disposals are best for incidental food particles that fall down the drain, but there are many food items that aren’t meant to be ground up. The most common offenders are potato peels, mango peels, and other fibrous materials that the disposal simply wasn’t designed to handle. (If you don’t believe us, read your manual. Most say that you shouldn’t try to grind these.)

What should you do with all of these peels? Compost them! Composting cuts down on what goes to the landfill, and it’s a great way to get nutrient-rich dirt for free. Trust us, it’s a great way to get rid of your peels, and if you have kids it makes a great learning experience.

side-thinsinkBe Aware of Warning Signs

If you’ve lived in your house for any length of time, you’ll probably notice when something starts to change. Years ago the water in the kitchen sink drained in a minutes, and now it takes three. Toilets never clogged before, but now you’re having to use the plunger three times a week. Cleaning hair from the first foot of the shower drain simply isn’t fixing the problem like it once did. When you notice that the efficiency of your fixtures is slowly going downhill, maybe it’s time to call a drain cleaning service and have them send everything on its way.

If you’ve just moved into a house, you might not be aware what to look for. After all, you might blame the clogged toilets on the toilet design; maybe you got one of those inefficient low-flow toilets from 1995. But if the house you just moved into is newer than that, it could be that the previous owners simply abused the drain systems more than they should have. And if your house is old and predates the use of PVC (before the 1960s) there’s a good chance that any house-wide problem mean that the iron pipes have given out. Give us a call and we can perform sewer cleaning as well as using a sewer camera to perform a sewer inspection.

Keep That Grease Out Of The Drains

Ah, c’mon, you knew this one was coming. We harp on it quite a bit, but that’s only because we want to deal with the sewer cleaning problems you can’t avoid. This is one you can deal with preventatively. Bacon grease is one of the most obvious offenders, and all you have to do is toss it into the trash instead. Oil is another, because, as slick as it is when it heads down the drain, it can solidify when it hits cold pipes. Do that enough times and you’ll need drain cleaning, or even more involved sewer cleaning. Most people swear they’ll change their habits in the future, but they fall away like so many New Year’s resolutions. Make this the year that you treat your drains better!

Give us a call when you’re having trouble with your sewer system, but we also want to help you prevent some problems that are easy to avoid. Make a New Year’s resolution to take better care of your plumbing, and at the same time you’re taking better care of your home as a whole.

 

 

 

Some Common Questions We Get When Performing Drain Cleaning Services

fb-drainWhile we work with our hands all days long, we also work with people. That’s why we spend so much time hiring the right plumbers and training them on how to best enter a person’s home and interact with our wonderful customers.

One aspect of dealing with customers is answering their questions. While some people will often show us the sink that’s having problems and walk away, other will be asking questions all the time. While we do have to concentrate on the job at hand, we certainly don’t mind the occasional question. After all, it’s your home and your pipes; you have a right to know what’s wrong with them! Here are some common questions we get from customers.

Customer: “Could you wear booties?”

We understand that your home is important to you, and just because you’re having plumbing problems doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped caring about your carpet. Garvin’s trucks have a supply of slip-over covers that go over our boots, which are especially handy during the wet seasons like winter and spring.

Customer: “What do you need to know?”

Some customers won’t even wait for us to ask about the problem. They’ll get things started off with a question of their own, asking us if there’s anything that we should know. How do we answer them? With questions of our own.

  • When did the problem start?
  • Did anything cause the problem to start? For example, did something go down the drain that you weren’t expecting?
  • Did you already try to fix it yourself in any way?
  • Are there any drain cleaners that could still be lurking in the clogged drain?
  • Are all of these outlets working? (We may have to plug in the drain snake.)
  • When was the last time you had any plumbing services performed?

side-thindrainCustomer: “Are you licensed? Insured? Bonded?”

All of these are very good questions to ask plumbers. We’re happy to say that every plumber that Garvin’s employs is licensed, and each is insured and bonded through Garvin’s.

Customer: “How much is this going to cost me?”

Honesty, we don’t know yet. It might simply be the cost of a service call. It could be more if we have to perform drain cleaning. If the problem isn’t just a single drain running slow, it could be that your main sewer pipe is blocked. If it is, the cost is obviously going to cost more than if we are simply clearing out one stopped drain.

Customer: “How long do you think this will take?”

Once again, we’re not sure until we take a look at the problem. A simple drain cleaning for one fixture could take as little as 30 minutes, but that will increase if the problem is worse. During emergency plumbing services, such as a backed up sewer or burst pipe, it could take many hours. We certainly don’t want to rush things and miss a problem that we could take care of now. After all, paying for one service call is always better than paying for two!

Customer: “Can You Tell When It Punches Through?”

Many customers have already tried to fix the problem themselves and are unable to do so. Maybe they had a 20-foot manual sewer snake and weren’t able to dislodge the problem in their kitchen sink. So if they’ve already fought that drain dragon, they might imagine something as hard as stone blocking the passage of their water.

To tell the truth, the answer most often is “no, we can’t tell when the drain snake punches through.” For indoor drain cleaning, we’re most often using an electric power drain snake that is incredibly powerful. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it punches through the drain clog and keeps on going. While we might be able to feel the twists and turns in the pipes, it’s unlikely we can feel the break in the clog. After we send the snake down the proper distance, we’ll pull it back, hook everything back up, and send down a sinkful of water. Clog gone, problem solved! (Performing rooter service on the main sewer line can be a different story. As powerful as our electric snakes are, roots can be very tightly packed, and clogs filled with the weird stuff people flush can be very tough. Sometimes we can really feel the sewer snake working on those!)

Customer: “Can I help?”

Once you engage our help, your problem is now our problem. While we might have some questions for you, it’s best if you simply let us do our jobs. For insurance reasons, we’ll take it from here!

If we’re performing drain cleaning for you, we have no problem with you asking us what’s going on. We have no problems talking about our jobs. Do you have any questions about these questions? Contact Garvin’s right here!

 

 

 

How To Prevent Drain Cleaning On Thanksgiving

thanksgivingThanksgiving is here once again, and that means food, family, and friends. If you’re hosting, it also means a large number of people in your home that might not know the rules about how to treat your plumbing. That means there might be trouble in your future, and while we’re here to help if something goes wrong, we’d rather give you some advice so that the relaxing holiday isn’t ruined. Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make during Thanksgiving.

Pouring Oil Down the Drain

In the last five years deep frying a turkey has really taken off. We have to admit that it tastes great when done right, but it’s dangerous and it leaves a huge amount of oil that you need to discard. What do you do with that oil?

Some people pour it down the sink or toilet. Don’t be those people. The oil will cool in your drain (it is November, after all) and harden, causing problems that could show up immediately. This single act could cause you to need emergency drain cleaning. It’s also a huge problem for the public sewer system and the water treatment plant.

What should you do with it? A quick Google search reveals free drop off locations for the oil so that it can turned into biofuel. Easy as pie. Mmmm, pie.

Starchy and Fibrous Foods

Garbage disposals are something of a misnomer. While “garbage” might be in their name, you’re certainly not putting tissues, used markers, and Snickers wrappers into them, are you? But garbage disposals aren’t even meant for all foods. Truth be told, they should be called “Occasional Soft Food Scraps Disposals.”

Some of the biggest threats to garbage disposal are foods that are either fibrous, starchy, or both. These include celery, asparagus, and all forms of potato peels. At that point you garbage disposal might be broken, and your drain could be clogged. Time to call a plumber for professional drain cleaning.

Oh, and avoid putting anything from a pumpkin (that one you used to make pie. Mmmmm, pie.) down the drain or garbage disposal at all costs. Here’s an entire blog on why pumpkins are so bad on your plumbing.

Absorbent Foods

While you’re probably not making a whole lot of rice and pasta for Thanksgiving, there are still absorbent materials that you might want to avoid putting down the drain or disposal. Chances are you’re having stuffing, which can expand to twice its size when put down the drain. We’d suggest running the garbage disposal immediately after putting any bread product into it.

Bones

Bones are one of those iffy parts of owning a garbage disposal. Some disposals say they handle chicken bones, but is it really necessary? What are the largest of the turkey bones that it can handle this Thanksgiving? You kind of have to ask yourself if it’s worth the chance of breaking your garbage disposal and getting those hard bits stuck in your drain. Using the trash can makes the most sense.

We hope you have a great Thanksgiving and hope you have no need of an emergency plumber! But if something goes wrong, please give us a call. We’re there for you every day of the year.

 

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running

An overlooked aspect of healthy plumbing and drains is your garbage disposal. When food and other miscellaneous items don’t pass through a garbage disposal properly, the entirety of your kitchen sink plumbing can go down the drain pretty quickly (we’re sorry). We have some tips to help you keep your garbage disposal in running order. garbage-disposal

Use Cold Water When Running the Disposal

Cold water, not hot, will help you when using your garbage disposal. Hot water has several negative effects on a disposal, which includes the potential of overheating or allowing things like grease to continue to spread throughout the inside of your disposal. Instead, cold water will help food items remain in a solid state so it can be broken up by the blades with minimal resistance.

Avoid Fibrous Foods

Corn husks, banana peels, celery and other fibrous foods are the things you should avoid putting down the drain. When these and similar stringy foods are placed in your disposal, they are shredded and instead of being pushed through, they wrap around the blades. This buildup will also cause the line to become clogged and make your drain nearly useless.

Use Ice Cubes to Sharpen the Blades

Just like a knife, the blades in your garbage disposal need to stay sharp in order to remain effective. There are numerous solutions for this out there, such using egg shells. However, the inner membrane of the egg shell can cause the same problem of wrapping around the blades as things like corn husks and other fibrous foods. Instead, grinding ice cubes and even a bit of rock salt in your disposal will help sharpen the edges and, because the ice will melt, there is no fear of it clogging the line and becoming counterproductive.

Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent drain clogging, garbage disposal issues, and other plumbing problems in your home. If these things do arise, Garvin’s Sewer Service is here to help you with 75 years of plumbing and sewer expertise. Give us a call or fill out our free quote form today!

Just Say No to Drano!

dreamstime_xxl_45757549When you experience a clog in your toilet or drain, how likely are you to reach for Drano, Liquid Plumr, or another chemical clog remover? Are you sure that’s a good idea?  Plumbers strongly recommend against using chemical drain clog removers, and it’s not just because it helps their business. Let’s explore the reasons to stay away from chemical drain cleaners.

It can make your toilet explode!

Yes, you read that correctly! Chemical drain cleaners do not mix well with porcelain, and the chemicals heat up while in the toilet bowl. The porcelain can either be cracked by the chemicals, or the combination of chemicals and porcelain could actually explode! Can you imagine the damage caused to your bathroom by a clogged toilet explosion? Don’t do it!

It eats away at your pipes

Although chemical drain cleaners can effectively remove some clogs, they can eat away at your pipes as well, especially if you use them frequently. Frequent use of chemical drain cleaners leads to the chemicals sitting in your plastic and metal piping systems, slowly corroding them away. Our professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service recommend cleaning your sewer line once a year to prevent frequent drain clogs.

The chemicals are dangerous for children and pets

The same chemicals that eat away at drain clogs can also harm your children and pets. Often, one of the main ingredients in chemical drain cleaners is lye, a caustic and toxic substance. Lye can cause severe burns when it comes into contact with your skin, and it could kill animals and people alike if they drink it. Also, chemical drain cleaners can release poisonous chemical gases when mixed with other cleaners, which could be fatal.

It’s Harmful to the Environment

Not only is lye harmful to humans and pets, it’s harmful for the ecosystem as well. When you pour chemical drain clog removers down the drain, they eventually release back into the environment.  Lye changes the pH of water bodies and can cause tissue damage in wildlife.  Exploring safe alternatives to Drano will positively impact the environment that you live in.

Chemical drain clog removers could potentially remove that nasty clog from your drain, but they have many very severe consequences. Wouldn’t you rather remove clogs safely with our trusted professional plumbers who have experience in drain cleaning in Denver? If you live in the greater Denver area, call Garvin’s Sewer Service today, so that we can do the dirty work for you!  Our testimonials speak for themselves!

Make Use of Grease and Cooking Oil and You Won’t Need Sewer Drain Cleaning Quite So Soon

dreamstime_xxl_15189984If you’ve been reading the Garvin’s Sewer Service Clog Blog for any amount of time, you know our disgust for grease. After all, grease that heads down the kitchen sink is one of the main reasons that people need sewer drain cleaning sooner than they normally would. (The oil that some people pour down their toilets during turkey fryer season doesn’t help things, either.)

While grease is obviously a pain for homeowners, you might think that we love grease. After all, grease gets us into people’s home for drain cleaning, and that makes us more money. But we’re not that kind of sewer service. While we’ll be your emergency plumber, we’re also your neighbors and have been for more than 75 years; we’re much more interested in helping you prevent those problems that we can and being there for you in your time of need for unpreventable problems.

But let’s get back to grease. If you’re not sending grease and oil down your drain, what are you doing with it? We’ve given some ideas before, such as waiting for it to cool in the pan and then wiping it off with a paper towel and into the trash. But there are so many uses for grease and oil — some you can do in the home, some industrial — that you might want to reconsider before throwing it away.

Cook With It

The simplest and most common use for kitchen grease is to cook with it. People have been cooking with grease for thousands of years, making foods tastier and finding a use for something that otherwise would have been thrown out.

The downside to cooking with grease is pretty obvious, though…health issues. There are good oils and there are bad oils, and grease is one of those bad oils that will clog up your arteries (and no, your local plumber can’t clean out your arteries with a sewer jetter like we can with your drain pipes). So while lard might liven up those deep-fried french fries every so often, it’s best to not cook with it much.

Recycle It

garvins 2One good thing to do with grease is to recycle it. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy a pouring it into your recycling bin (we repeat: do not do this!). In Boulder county you can drop off grease and cooking oil at the Eco-Cycle Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials at 6400 Arapahoe Rd. (303-444-6634). After Thanksgiving there are often cooking oil drop off locations around Denver.

What About Restaurants?

Restaurants use a lot of cooking oil, and it usually ends up in one of two places. The yellow grease is mostly oil and is captured before it heads down the drains. Grease and oil that does make it into the drain pipes is captured by grease traps, rots, and becomes brown grease. Brown grease is almost always headed directly to the landfill. Yellow grease, on the other hand…

What’s It Made Into?

Depending on the demand, restaurants can pay to have yellow grease taken away or have a company pay them for it. Back when diesel fuel prices were getting to be around $4.00 a gallon, the yellow grease was very valuable because of people making it into biodiesel and driving their cars on it. While that demand has leveled off somewhat, yellow grease is still commonly used in the production of rubber, detergents. soap, and makeup. It is also used to feed livestock.

Grease has many uses, and the last thing you want is to have it clogging up your pipes and causing a demand for premature drain cleaning. Still, no matter how vigilant you are with preventing oils and grease from going down the drain, there will always be a buildup over the years that causes you to call your local plumber. When that time comes, Garvin’s will be there!

Flush the Idea of Flushing any of This

Or: How to See Your Local Plumber Much More Often than Desired

dreamstime_9956210As homeowners ourselves, we have to admit that we’ve made our fair share of home care and maintenance mistakes. That application of weed killer that effectively killed our lawn along with the dandelions; that well-meaning attempt at tree trimming that cost us our front bay window; and of course, that one time, where we …. well never mind.

So it is with the best intentions that we want to alert people to a common mistake that most homeowners make: flushing household products that should never be flushed. We understand how it happens. It says right there on that package of personal wipes that they’re “flushable”, which for all intents and purposes is the truth. Somewhat. Ya see, technically they are flushable. They will flush. They just can’t move through the underground pipes effectively and won’t break down in water in the same way that toilet paper does. Over time, these baby wipes will clog your pipes, backup your systems and cost you a pretty penny. So, if you are a big fan of these wipes, throw them out, don’t flush them.

And while we’re on our plumbing maintenance soap box, never flush these following items either:

  • paper towels
  • diapers
  • cigarettes
  • medications
  • kitty litter
  • condoms
  • first aid gauze or bandages 
  • cosmetics
  • feminine hygiene products

Basically, the rule of thumb for flushing is that if it’s not pee, poo or paper (the type for toilets), it doesn’t belong in your toilet. So save yourself the cost and frustration of another visit from your plumber and remember to treat your toilet with the care it deserves.

For everything from basic plumbing issues like clogged drains, to more complicated plumbing needs, call the team at Garvin’s Sewer Service Inc. We’re not Denver’s favorite plumbers for nothing.

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April 25th: National Plumber’s Day!

 

dreamstime_7666152Here’s a fun website for you: It’s checkiday.com, and it catalogues all of the weird “National Whatever Days” you might have heard about. Did you know that June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day? Or that September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day?

Well, we’d like to welcome you to April 25th, National Plumber’s Day! It’s a day to say thank you to any plumber you meet, or to send flowers to your local water service expert.

Is having plumbers around really that important? Oh yes!

We’re There When You Need Us

Many plumbing calls we get are emergency situations. Now that doesn’t always mean that people are up to their knees in sewage, but when your toilet won’t flush…well, what would you call it other than an emergency? Plumbers are quick to help whether you’ve lost access to water coming in or when the water won’t leave your house (even when you nicely ask it to leave).

We Keep People Healthy

Did you know that thousands of people across the world die every day because they don’t have access to clean, safe water? And do you know why so much of that water is polluted? With ⅓ of the planet’s populations not having access to a toilet, much of the sickness is coming from tainted water supplies. It’s something that most people don’t think about in the United States, and you’ve got a plumber to thank (on April 25th and beyond) for helping to keep you and your family healthy.

Never take a plumber for granted! Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service we’ll take care of you when you need drain cleaning and sewer cleaning. Happy National Plumber’s Day, everyone!

 

 

 

The Basics Of Becoming a Plumber

 

The pipes a drain company needs to deal with.Have you ever wondered what kind of training occurs for someone who wishes to become a plumber? For those who have the inclination, it’s actually a great career path. Here are the basics of how to become a plumber.

Make sure you have a GED or High School Diploma

It’s should come as no surprise that plumbing and sewer cleaning contain a lot of science. It’s important to have a solid knowledge of math (geometry and algebra) and science (basic physics, and in the case of sewer cleaning, gravity!).

Vocational Training

High school won’t teach you everything you need to know about plumbing and sewer repair. Find a local trade school or community college that offers classes in plumbing. You’ll learn all about piping for both whitewater and blackwater and how to deal with the installation and problems associated with each.

Apprenticeship program

In most cases, prospective plumbers participate in an apprenticeship program that lasts for a few years. During this time you’ll be making money and learning about the trade in real-world drain cleaning and rooter service. One of the best ways to find an apprenticeship program is to contact a local plumbers’ union.

Get Licensed

Before you can get licensed, you’ll need the experience of being a plumber and also need to pass an exam proving that you know state and local plumbing codes. To find out more about these requirements, check out the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies website.

Be Nice

Whether you work for Garvin’s Sewer Service or strike out on your own, the one piece of advice we can give you is this: be nice! Treat your customers kindly and fairly, and always deliver the best plumbing services possible. That’s something that has kept Garvin’s in Denver for over 75 years.

Becoming a plumber isn’t necessarily easy, but there is a clear path you can take filled with lots of on-the-job training. If you’re on your way to becoming a plumber, good luck! And if you’re just interested in sewer drain cleaning, give Garvin’s a call and we’ll get your plumbing moving again.

 

 

Digging Into The Reasons You Might Need Rooter Service in Denver

 

dreamstime_xxl_28600807While Denver isn’t really the oldest city in the country, it doesn’t exactly mean that our sewer pipes are exactly new. In fact, because the most reliable sewer pipes didn’t come along until around 30 or 40 years ago, Denver will suffer many of the same problems as any other city in the country.

So if you own a business or are renting a building in Denver, there are many reasons why you might need rooter service before you know it.

Old Pipes: Old pipes can be made from many materials, and we wrote an entire blog about the various types of pipe that were used from the lateral line from your business in the public sewers. Old pipes are more likely to leak and break, which could lead to needing more frequent sewer cleaning. If you suspect you might have a break, give us a call and we can send down the sewer camera to find out if you’ll need a replacement or if you simply need more frequent sewer service.

Growing Trees: Let’s say that you’re not in an old part of Denver but are in a relatively new building that has newer sewer pipes. The problem them stems from the rapidly growing trees that have been planted in the last 10 years. Those trees, often planted in sidewalk spaces that are two small for them, are sending their roots down and heading for your sewer lines. Rooter service is the answer when you want to get those roots out.

Excess Use: If you have a restroom that’s open to the public, you’re more likely to be calling us for drain cleaning service. Why? Take a guess! Your toilets will be used more often, people will be using more toilet paper, people will let pieces of paper towels go down the drain, all because they simply aren’t as careful when they’re out in a public place. The fact is, when people are in a public restroom they know that they can just walk away from a problem so they’re much less likely to be careful about what they send down the drain. All this mean more frequent drain cleaning service for you.

If You Own A Restaurant: If you own a restaurant, it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to need more frequent drain cleaning services. That’s because grease is constantly heading down the drain, and grease traps don’t help until after it’s already past your drains. If you have a backup because of having too much grease in your drains, business is going to stop until it’s fixed. The best thing to do is engage Garvin’s Sewer Service for some preventive drain cleaning. We’ll be back at the same time every month (or every two months or however you decided to set it up) so there’s a much less chance of a surprise backup.

Previous Tenants: If you’ve just opened up your new business, congratulations. And while the visible fixtures they left behind might look good, you have no idea of knowing what they sent down the drain when they were in charge of the building. The best thing to do is to play it safe and have Garvin’s stop by to clean out the drains so that nothing they sent down ever comes back up.

There are so many things up against you when you have a business; don’t let your drains be one of the. Contact Garvin’s today for the best sewer drain cleaning you can find.