High Ethics, Happy Customers and Culture Make for Longevity in the sewer service business

Garvins-Sewer-Service-250This year, Garvin’s Sewer Service is celebrating 75 years in the sewer cleaning, drain cleaning, and sewer camera inspection business.

A family-owned, honest, reliable drain cleaning company, Garvin’s Sewer Service is now in its third generation of ownership. They believe their values and mission statement create a culture that demands customers be treated the way each employee would want to be treated- with fairness, honesty and reputably. Started by Russell P. Garvin in 1940 in the heart of Denver, Colorado, it is Denver’s oldest drain cleaning company.

They are proud of their third generation customers as well as being known within the drain cleaning industry as being the problem solvers. When other sewer cleaning competitors can’t seem to get a job done, they will typically refer to Garvin’s.

Some city water departments refer to Garvin’s as well, mainly because of their high ethics. They have saved families thousands of dollars by giving free second looks at sewer camera inspection videos and performing sewer cleaning rather than replacing sewer lines.

What makes Garvin’s Sewer Service unique?

  1. When contacting Garvin’s Sewer Service, the dispatcher quotes the service price right over the phone. This is rare in their industry.
  2. The prices quoted are accurate. They don’t say one price and charge a different one when they arrive- except in rare cases where the job was bigger than originally explained over the phone.
  3. Their philosophy of service versus sales. They say, “We train drain-cleaners, not sales people.” Anyone who has ever had a salesperson come to their house to do repairs, understands how welcoming it is to NOT have that.
  4. Referral business is their highest form of marketing. They boast that even after over 7 decades in the sewer cleaning business they still cite word of mouth and referrals for the majority of their business.
  5. More than a 98% customer satisfaction rating. And with an average of 700-1000 drain cleaning jobs performed each and every month, they feel blessed.

The mission statement is posted on the employee training wall and is reviewed at the monthly service meeting. It reads: “We believe that customers have the right to expect fast, efficient service; that our service will be done by employees who are knowledgeable, polite, and neat. We treat our customers with respect in order to achieve a long and productive relationship upon which they can rely. We are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the Garvin’s name.”

You can trust the ethics of Denver’s oldest drain cleaning company, Garvin’s Sewer Service. Contact them at 303-571-5114.

The stuff you flush that can lead to the need for sewer service

dreamstime_xxl_10290097“If tampons are flushable, why do they cause a sewer backup?”

Recently I heard from a landlord who said it was part of the lease that tampons would not be flushed down the toilet. Yet after a sewer backup, it was found tampons were the major culprit.

In fact, tampons, wipes, paper towels are the three biggest culprits to cause a need for sewer cleaning besides root growth in sewer lines. Why is that? Each product claims to be flushable.

Flushable means “suitable for disposal by flushing down a toilet” (source: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flushable). Disposable means “an article designed to be thrown away after use” (source: dictionary.reference.com/browse/disposable.

Choosing to dispose of something in the toilet rather than the trashcan is the simple definition of flushable, but that doesn’t mean it is the best or right thing to do.

Anything that can go into a trashcan, should. This includes: food, oils, trash, plastics, cigarette butts, dental floss, diapers, condoms, kitty litter and even paper towels, wipes, facial tissues, tampons and their applicators, and sanitary napkins. In fact, the only things truly flushable are waste and toilet paper.

Preventing a sewer backup is simply a choice to use a trashcan for all disposables and keeping root growth at bay. I let the landlord know that most women don’t think the actual cotton tampon is a problem. They know the applicator should not be flushed, just as they know the sanitary pad shouldn’t, but the idea of putting used tampons into the trash is just not understood. Part of the benefit of the tampon is the disposable and flushable component it offers. The women who do know this are usually homeowners or landlords who have had to front the bill of a sewer backup due to a clog caused by used tampons in the sewer.

My suggestion for homeowners and landlords is that they clearly specify to guests and tenants how “flushable” is defined. For many, it will simply be stating anything that can go in the trash, rather than the toilet, should.

I have been in many bathrooms where a sign is posted reading, “Please do not flush feminine products”. For years, I believed that to mean that I should not flush tampon applicators or sanitary pads. I did not think used tampons were considered a feminine product because it clearly said it was flushable and I wondered how sanitary it would be to put it in the trash instead.

For a teen daughter or a tenant, consider having them read “Can you flush tampons?” as an additional source of information from www.theperiodblog.com

Make sure you are clear in order to prevent a backup requiring professional sewer service. Here is a clear (and funny sign) I found online:

For more homeowner tips, follow PlumbingGirl on Facebook!

Stories from the Trade Show: Drain Cleaning 101

They say truth is stranger than fiction…
dreamstime_xxl_15298535A man approaches me at a recent trade show and asks, “Do you guys sell plungers for low flush toilets?”

“No,” I reply, “But any hardware store sells them.”

“I have one and it’s not working because my,” he pauses, thinks, then continues with finger quotes, “my ‘deposits’ are as large as the exit pipe. I eat a lot of roughage and am having to flush several times to move it through. I’m certain I am NOT saving any water. After I flush several times, I wipe then flush that. The rubber on my plunger is wearing out.”

Remembering my training in raising teenagers and thus having no reaction to the absurd, I respond, “There is an item called an ‘auger’. It is metal and is a 4ft. long cable that can go into a smaller opening and clear the clog. It might avoid your need for professional drain cleaning.”

He smiles, thanks me, and walks away.

Good luck, sir. Good luck.


Bathrooms (and drain cleaning) of the Future

When I was a kid, I loved the Jetsons.

I really did think when I was an adult, the world would be like that. Although, I couldn’t do the math to figure out that in 2062, the time of the show, I would be 86 years old. That’s a long time to wait for a servant robot.

Well, we almost are using TV Screen Phones (with FaceTime, Skype and the like). But we don’t have flying cars and I haven’t figured out how to get my dog to walk on a treadmill, or have a machine dress me, apply my make-up AND cook my breakfast all in less than 10 seconds.

Nonetheless, we are living in a time where inventions are flowing like waterfalls on chiseled cliffs. So what will bathrooms of the future look like? And how will they affect sewer cleaners like us. Will bathrooms all have bidets?


After all, bidets do cut down on toilet paper use significantly.


Will they all be self-cleaning?



Maybe every drain will have a sink disposal, like Kramer did when he had a disposal in his shower on Seinfeld?


No matter what, we look forward to seeing the solutions (and problems) that arise concerning sewer cleaning. After all, Garvin’s has been at this for 75 years, and we’re sure to see some changes in the next 75!

Toy in the Toilet might mean drain cleaning

dreamstime_xxl_22824764As a mom, we have to deal with a lot of stuff.

Drama when kids fight over a toy.

Drama as our child goes to their first day of school.

Drama as our kid has their first serious sickness or injury.

Drama as our children complain about the food they are served.

Kids don’t mean to be drama queens. But they are. And as moms, we manage it- either by being drama queens ourselves, having our own tantrums, having a glass of wine after dinner, taking a hot bath, or going out on a date night with friends or a partner. (Or the half million other strategies we have found to manage all that is Parenting.)

My favorite thing about parenting is that we are all doing our best. We don’t ever wake up in the morning and say, “Today, I’m going to be a terrible parent.” We all do our best.

And, our kids help us mature in “our best efforts” by teaching us, in their very special way, how to manage drama.

What do you do when your child flushes a toy?

1. First, accept that you are being given an opportunity to manage some drama. Drama Management 201.

2. Second, a plunger usually doesn’t work. Don’t bother.


Even if you are able to push the item through, it doesn’t mean it won’t cause a clog. We actually had a customer that required a sewer camera to find out what the problem was and there was a toy car perfectly (or frustratingly) wedged at a bend that caused several back-ups. Which means in some cases you may want to:


3. Third, pull the toilet.

Some handy folks can do this themselves, but most people prefer to call a plumber. There are YouTube videos on how to do this, if you want to see what it takes and be adventurous.


In all, it is better to retrieve the flushed child’s toy rather than to “push it through”. So, get some towels and get out your rubber gloves, Momma. Or, better yet, delegate this task to someone else.

And then get some child locks for the toilet until they are a little older.

Congratulations, you have met the prerequisite for Drama Management 301. I expect your reports by next Monday. Or next Mother’s Day. Whenever you have time, really.




Bathroom Debates Beyond When it's time for drain cleaning

dreamstime_9956210There are plenty of things in the world to debate and ponder — starvation, sustainability, clean drinking water. But there are far fewer things we get downright righteous about — our bathrooms.

I don’t mean using a particular brand or color coordination, I’m talking about the good old basic age-old debates:

Which way should the toilet paper hang?

When posted online, we received comments that kept the debate alive, although it seems people with playful pets (and may I suggest children), ‘A’ is the best option. Otherwise, it seems ‘B’ is the chosen response, however there was no good reason for it other than you will make people crazy if you don’t.

For A:

“This is not a debate- CLEARLY ‘A’ wins out every time.” -Marie

“Only reason EVER for ‘A’: your dog likes to spin the roll for fun” –Kim

“B normally, but A if you have cats.” -Gene

For B:

“B is the only logical answer” –John

“B… it’s just the way I roll” –Mike

“It’s B if you want to be rolling according to etiquette standards; it showcases the design of the paper.” –Kimberly

“B and I am adamant about it.” -Shelli

“Always B. A is annoying.” –Rachel

Do you use the decorative bathroom soaps or not?

My mom had a dish of decorative soaps in the bathroom- they matched the décor of beachside- in shapes of seashells. She also kept a pump dispenser of liquid soap. She didn’t want anyone to use the decorative soaps- they were simply decorative.

How about others? What do they do?

We searched online and came up with some fun answers. I’m not going to include a link- you need to do your own search for answers to this silliness.

“Gross. No soap sharing!”

“I used to collect decorative soaps and I had so many, I just starting using them up. They are lovely.”

Which then brings me to, after you have used the toilet paper and the decorative bath soap… where do you wipe your hands?




Do you use the decorative hand towels?

Yes, my mom had these two. They changed with the seasons. I always felt weird about drying my hands on Santa’s crunchy, non-absorbent beard. So, usually just dried my hands on my pant legs.

How about you?

Again, here are a few answers we found online:

“I buy things to use them, not to just look pretty.”

“Yes, they are washable, but once you do, they fade and don’t hang right.”

“I think my guest deserve to use the pretty towels. If you don’t want them touched, frame them or something.”


I would love your thoughts on these critical questions. You can comment here or find us on Twitter, FaceBook or Pinterest to comment there.


Love Your Garbage Disposal Month…And Avoid Drain Cleaning Next Month

FM3DI--trashIt’s “Love Your Garbage Disposal Month,” hereby declared by PlumbingGirl!

November and December tend to yield high-frequency Garbage Disposal Abuse. It’s not your fault — you probably didn’t know any better. Your daddy isn’t a plumber like mine is. I’m not here to cast shame, it will be ok. However, in the effort to protect my mechanical friends, the Garbage Disposals of America, I am issuing this Public Service Announcement. (It’s also a PSA to protect you from unnecessary drail cleaning)

At risk of hurting my Disposal friends’ feelings, I need to tell you that disposals aren’t meant to do anything more than handle the scraps left after a dish is cleared into the trashcan.

When peeling potatoes, of any type, (or even yams, if they are different from sweet potatoes as is a regular debate at my house during the holidays), throw the peels into the trash rather than the disposal. Or better yet compost them.

When chopping any vegetables, anything that you aren’t going to cook, throw that into the trashcan rather than the disposal. Or put it aside for composting. Need more info on composting? Try HERE: http://dug.org/compost

When trimming meats, whether skins or fats, or when cooking meats, don’t discard any of the trimmings down the drain. Use the fats for gravies or soups by canning them in either a rinsed aluminum can or glass mason jar. If you are not going to use the grease, consider recycling it through a local program (see this blog for suggestions ), or throw it away. (Usually you will want it in a sealed container so it doesn’t leak through the garbage bag.)

A new garbage disposal, replaced by a professional, can cost a couple hundred dollars. Failing to use it properly can lead to unnecessary drain cleaning Protect your friend, and your wallet, by using the trash can instead.




Dumping Oil In Your Sink Leads To Unnecessary Drain Cleaning! Here are some turkey fryer oil drop-off locations in Colorado

dreamstime_xxl_27295959Are you frying your turkey this Thanksgiving? We definitely recommend it, yum! One important thing to remember is when disposing of the cooking oil, DO NOT dump the oil down any sink or flush it down the toilet. This can lead to clogging, bad smells, build up, trapping other things in your pipes… all around bad things for your plumbing. And this can lead to unnecessary sewer and drain cleaning.

Instead, we recommend taking your turkey fryer oil to a recycling location, which accepts all food and vegetable-based oils. Here are a couple suggestions:

http://oildropoff.com/ , this organization is “working to keep cooking oils out of the sewers and landfills and turning the waste product into clean, renewable biodiesel fuel.”

Drop off location:

5380 N. Franklin St.
Denver, CO 80216

Drop Off Hours
Monday – Friday
9am to 4pm
Upon arrival please call 303.294.0026 for assistance

Another resource,  with many Colorado municipalities offering year-round recycOil® used cooking oil recycling facilities is: http://www.recycoil.com/sites.html

Remember, keep those drains clean and you’re less likely to need a drain cleaning service! Read Plumbing Girl’s rant on other things you shouldn’t throw down the drain here

How to Plumbing FAILS II – Do It Yourself Drain Cleaning?

drain_cta_revSometimes we come across customers who think they can do their own plumbing. Sometimes their own drain cleaning and sewer repair. Only sometimes does it work!

They find How To Plumbing articles, books and videos

However, there are some things that really need to be left to professionals.

Quick story, just this week from our office: this customer called and said,

“Do you guys get a cable out of a sewer line?”

“Yes we do. But we think it is best if you can require the person who got it stuck to get it out. That way, you don’t spend your own money to do it.”

“Um, well I’m the guy that got it stuck. I rented it from the hardware store.”

“Oh. Ok, then yes, we can get it out for you. We charge $75 and hour.”

“Well, it cost me $100 to rent it, and I don’t know what they will charge me for bringing it back damaged. I guess at the end of this, it probably cost me at least $175 plus my day.”

“Yea, and we hate to rub salt in the wound, but we only charge $165 to have done it, professionally. And, in under two hours. And no mess.”

<man groans>, “Ok, please send someone.”

For more on when to use a How to Plumbing resource, and when NOT to, see my blog: DIY Plumbing


Spork fixes a toilet. At least until dinner time!

Good old ingenuity can solve a ton of problems. But so can a $3 toilet part. Hopefully, this temporary fix holds long enough for the homeowner to get to the hardware store and back. Toilet fixes are actually very easy, and rather inexpensive. Commercial toilets, waterless, urinals and etc., require a professional, but at home repairs can be done simply. Even without a spork.


Shower dresses as a Mummy for Halloween!

Similar to the above example, tape is a TEMPORARY fix. And typically, a good rule of thumb is: unless you are wrapping a package, tape is to be used sparingly. Hopefully, this homeowner is simply pausing to admire their work before heading to the hardware store. Shower heads are another easy thing to replace on your own, or even ask the Handyman who is already there patching a screen or something, give it a go.

But when the water won’t stop, shoots out the side, or is getting into the wall (causing water damage and BIG problems), it is time to call a Plumber. Usually this quick fix has to do with the pipe not being correctly tightened, or is a poor fit. The professional plumber can fix this, and preserve your showerhead’s dignity (not it’s mummified remains).


***ALL photos courtesy of This Old House: Inspection Nightmares***

Do you have any questions about when to use that How to Plumbing resource vs. Calling a professional?

Ask away!

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!