Don’t Flush Feminine Products (or Other “Flushables”)

Don’t Flush Feminine Products (or Other “Flushables”)

There’s a lot of confusion out there when it comes to what exactly you can flush down the toilet. Take feminine products, for example: some products will say on the package that they are flushable, but take it from us – it’s best not to flush them down the toilet. Let’s take a closer look and find out why.

Feminine Products: Made to Absorb Moisture

Sanitary pads and tampons are designed to absorb moisture. If you flush them, they’ll end up absorbing water and expanding in size – in fact, tampons can expand to about 10 times their original size as they absorb water. The water-logged pads and tampons may end up clogging your toilet, causing it to overflow. Even if they manage to make it past the toilet, they may end up causing a blockage elsewhere in the plumbing system. 

If you have an older sewer system, it’s possible that you have tree roots infiltrating your sewer pipes. Flushed tampons and sanitary pads can get caught in the roots, creating blockages in your pipes and leading to a sewer backup. Gross!

Feminine Products: Not Biodegradable

One myth that prevails is that tampons are biodegradable and will simply break down after you flush them. This is false; unlike toilet paper, which does disintegrate, the cotton and/or rayon material used in tampons won’t break down, and will instead remain in a solid lump. Flush multiple tampons down the toilet, and you could have a major plumbing blockage on your hands!

Sewage Treatment Plant Problems

If the sanitary pads or tampons make it past your plumbing and sewer lines, there’s still the issue of the sewage treatment plant, where they may affect the pumping station or clog the filters. Generally sewage treatment plants break down items in the wastewater with strong chemicals; these chemicals can have adverse effects on the plant employees. Public wastewater treatment costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year; this cost could be reduced in part by not flushing feminine products down the toilet.

Septic Tank Issues

If you have a septic tank, feminine products can sit in the tank and take up space, causing the liquid levels to rise as a result. Human waste may end up blocking the distribution pipes, and you could experience a sewage back-up. If you see sewage or wastewater collecting around the tank, you’ve got a blockage somewhere in your system! 

What About “Flushable” Personal Wipes?

We’ve seen them at the store – those personal wipes next to the toilet paper that promise to get you extra clean. They are also supposedly flushable, but it’s best not to take the chance. While they don’t absorb water like sanitary pads and tampons do, they don’t break down like toilet paper, and clogs in your pipes are a possibility, especially if you use them often.

What Can I Flush?

Here’s what you can flush down your toilet: human waste and toilet paper. That’s it. Flushing anything else – including feminine products or so-called “flushable” wipes – puts you at risk for clogs in your plumbing system. Avoid plumbing problems and throw these products in the wastebasket!

If you’re experiencing sewer line backups or overflowing toilets as a result of clogs caused by feminine products or other items, contact us – we’re sewer line experts, and can fix the problem fast. We can handle other plumbing repairs, as well, and we offer preventative maintenance to prevent sewer line backups. If you’re in the greater Denver area and are in need of a plumber, call us!

Are Bath Bombs Bad For My Plumbing?

Are Bath Bombs Bad For My Plumbing?

After a long, hard day slaving at the office or dealing with the kids, nothing beats a nice, long soak in the tub. Many people like to jazz up their bath time with a brightly colored, scented bath bomb. While bath bombs are awesome for relaxing and easing away your stress, they may not be so good for your plumbing.

What Are Bath Bombs And How Do They Work?

Invented and patented in 1989 by Mo Constantine, co-founder of Lush Cosmetics, bath bombs are made up of a mixture of wet and dry ingredients that are compressed, molded into a variety of shapes, then dried. They were originally meant to be an alternative to bubble baths and bath salts, both of which can be irritating to skin.

While the exact ingredients of bath bombs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, most typically contain citric acid, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and cornstarch. The citric acid and baking soda are what cause the signature “fizzing and bubbling” effect when the bath bomb is dropped into water, while the cornstarch binds to both baking soda and citric acid, slowing the reaction and causing the fizzing to last longer. Bath bombs also contain other materials, such as scents, essential oils, fat or grease, and flower petals – even glitter can be found in some bath bombs.

As you can imagine, not all of a bath bomb’s ingredients are harmless to your plumbing. Here are some bath bomb materials that can be problematic:

Salt – Salt will usually dissolve in water, but not always, especially if the crystals are large. If salt doesn’t dissolve entirely, you may end up with clogs in your drains.

Oils – These ingredients are usually added to bath bombs in order to moisturize the skin, as well as to provide a fragrant scent. Even a little bit can cause issues with your plumbing, however – the oil can congeal and stick to the insides of your pipes, causing clogs.

Fat/grease – Like oils, fat and grease are sometimes added to bath bombs to moisturize the skin; they also help to maintain the bomb’s shape before it is added to the bath water. Fat and grease don’t dissolve easily unless the water is very hot, and therefore – you guessed it – they can also result in clogs.

Flowers, paper, glitter, etc. – These other materials obviously don’t dissolve in water, and can cause clogs. Even biodegradable ingredients (e.g. flower petals) can cause problems.

How To Use Bath Bombs While Protecting Your Plumbing

Bummed that your beloved bath bombs may be causing plumbing issues? Don’t worry – you can still use them; you just need to take a few precautions:

Use a nylon bag – Before putting it in the water, place your bath bomb in a sealable, fine-mesh nylon bag. The bomb will still fizz, and the bag will help trap the debris, flower petals and other things that may clog your drain. It can even help with the salt that won’t dissolve completely.

Read the fine print – Pay close attention to the ingredients before you purchase any bath bombs, and avoid those that contain oil, grease, or anything else that won’t dissolve easily.

Don’t use them too often – Use them just every once in a while, not every day (or even every week). Yes, we know they’re lots of fun, but your plumbing will thank you if you use them judiciously.

Are you guilty of using bath bombs a few too many times and have clogs in your pipes to show for it? If you’re in the Denver area, call Garvin’s Sewer Service for professional drain and sewer cleaning and to schedule regular preventative maintenance. We can clear your drains and sewers of clogs resulting from bath bombs or other materials that don’t belong in your pipes. We also offer emergency drain cleaning services. If you’re having trouble with your drains or sewers, call us today!

Can You Flush Cat Poop Down the Toilet?

Can You Flush Cat Poop Down the Toilet?

Are you a cat person or a dog person? It’s a debate as old as time. Dogs are generally friendlier and more trainable than cats, while cats are more independent and self-sufficient than dogs. 

Another plus for dogs is that you can house train them (most of the time), while cats need a litter box. And let’s face it – no matter how much you may love cats, cleaning out the litter box is a gross job! Which leads us to ask the question – can you flush cat poop down the toilet?

Cat Poop & Public Health

You may think flushing your cat’s poop down the toilet is easier and more sanitary than throwing it away, but think again – cat feces has a lot of germs associated with it, not the least of which is a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.

This parasite is capable of infecting virtually all warm-blooded animals, but members of the cat family (including domestic cats) are the only known definitive hosts in which the parasite may sexually reproduce.

Toxoplasma gondii can cause the disease toxoplasmosis. Symptoms of toxoplasmosis vary; most people who become infected show no symptoms at all, while some may develop swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that may last for a month or more. 

The disease can cause serious health problems in pregnant women and individuals who have compromised immune systems – these people need to be cautious around cat feces, and avoid contact with it.

Because of the health hazards associated with cat poop, it’s important to avoid contaminating the public water system with it and ALWAYS bag it up and throw it away – NEVER flush it!

Cat Poop & Plumbing

Human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should be flushed down the toilet – flushing cat poop can result in clogged plumbing lines or even a backed-up sewer line. Nobody wants that!

And then there’s the matter of the cat litter. When you flush cat poop, some cat litter always comes along for the ride. Depending on the material it’s made out of, kitty litter can expand up to 15 times in size after coming into contact with water or other fluids – that will almost certainly clog up your plumbing!

And what if that kitty litter happens to dry out while in the plumbing lines? It will harden like cement, resulting in serious plumbing issues. 

What about brands of kitty litter that claim to be flushable? Better to be safe than sorry, and dispose of it properly by putting it into a biodegradable bag and throwing it away. 

Bottom line: Don’t flush cat poop. We know it’s tempting to do so, and you probably think a little bit can’t possibly hurt, but don’t do it. Trust us on this.

Schedule a Sewer Line Inspection Today

Wondering what’s in your sewer line (besides cat poop, that is)? You can find out with a sewer line camera inspection! This service will enable you to determine if there are issues with the sewer line, and should be performed if there have been repeated problems or if you’re buying a home. 

You can also prevent plumbing problems in the first place by performing regular sewer line cleaning. We’ve been providing both sewer line inspection and sewer line cleaning services in the Denver area for years, and have seen it all. If you’re having trouble with your sewer line, contact us today!

Signs Your Water Heater is Going Bad

Signs Your Water Heater is Going Bad

It’s the height of summer, and with the heat we try to think cool. Cool rooms, cool drinks, cool showers…they all help to keep us from roasting in the high temperatures. The last thing you’re probably thinking of this time of year is taking a hot shower!

But hold on…fall is coming soon, and with it comes cooler temperatures and an increase in hot water usage. Is your water heater up to the challenge, or is it on its last legs? If you want to be able to enjoy a nice hot shower on chilly mornings throughout the fall and winter, you need to make sure your water heater is still working properly.

6 Signs Your Water Heater Is Going to Fail

Luckily there are warning signs of impending water heater failure that, if heeded, can help you avoid a worst-case scenario (i.e. no hot water at all!). If you see any of these signs, call a water heater professional who can diagnose and fix the problem, or replace the water heater altogether, if needed.

  1. Water is leaking from the heating tank – If you see water dripping from the tank or pooling under the water heater, you’ve got a leak. (You may also see water dripping from nearby pipes.) Sometimes it’s an easy fix – a valve may need closing, or a connection may need tightening. If there’s an actual leak in the tank, however, you’ll need to replace your water heater. 
  2. You’re running out of hot water quickly – There’s nothing worse than having the hot water run out on you right in the middle of your shower. If you keep running out of hot water when bathing, doing the dishes, or washing your hands, that’s a sign that your water heater cannot keep up with the demand.

    One problem may be an accumulation of sediment, often due to having hard water (which Colorado is known for). The buildup of sediment leaves less space for hot water in the tank, thus causing you to run out of it quickly. Regular flushing of your water heater can help (done every other year or so), but if it doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to look into getting a new one. A plumber can make a recommendation for the best option. 
  3. The water temperature is inconsistent – If your hot water runs hot, then cold, then hot, then cold…, that’s another sign of a failing water heater. Sometimes it’s just the thermostat that needs fixing, but if the heating elements are broken, you should think about just getting a new water heater, especially if it is older than 7 years. 
  4. You see discolored water from the faucets – Seeing murky brown or rust-colored water from the faucets in your home? That’s a sign that the interior coating of the water heater tank is beginning to thin, causing rust to form inside the tank. Replacing the anode rods and/or flushing the unit can help, but if it doesn’t, that means the tank is probably shot. 
  5. You hear strange noises in the water heater – If you hear weird noises coming from your water heater, that probably means the water heater element is going bad. This may be caused by any number of issues, so it’s best to have a professional come and take a look at it to see if it can be fixed or if you need a new unit. 
  6. Your water heater is over 10 years old – Water heaters don’t last forever – in fact, they typically have a life of 10-15 years. Yes, it’s going to cost you some money, but newer units are more energy-efficient than older ones, and can save you money in the long run.

If you see any of the above signs of a failing water heater, call Garvin’s – water heater repair and water heater replacement are just a couple of the many plumbing services we offer. We’ll make sure you have plenty of hot water for the cooler months ahead!

Why Do My Drains Back Up After It Rains?

Why Do My Drains Back Up After It Rains?

Believe it or not, Colorado gets a lot of rain in the spring and early summer, and for some homeowners, this means backed-up drains. So why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Let’s explore!

Signs of Backed-Up Drains

If your drains are backing up after it rains, you are sure to see some signs and symptoms. One common sign is water pooling in your basement or around your drain outlets. You may also notice that your toilet, sink, or any other plumbing connected to a drain isn’t draining properly – or at all. In the worst case scenario, you may see sewage coming up from the drain. If this happens, you need to call an emergency plumber ASAP! 

Reasons Why Backed-Up Drains Occur

There are a few reasons why backed-up drains happen following a heavy rain. One is that the sewers may be overflowing with rainwater, and your drains simply aren’t able to handle all of the water coming through them. This can happen even if there are no clogs – it’s just a matter of too much water for the drain.

The rainwater that flows into the sewer systems isn’t exactly sparkling clean, either – it contains debris like leaves, soil, sticks, and trash that can also get into your sewer system after a heavy rain, causing your drains to clog and back up.

Another reason for backed-up drains is clogs in your sewer lines from tree roots, collapsed clay pipes (older homes are notorious for this), grease, so-called flushable wipes (just because they go down the drain, doesn’t mean they break down), and other items not meant to be put into sewer lines. 

Preventing Backed-Up Drains

Drain back-ups can be a real nuisance, and they seem to happen at the worst possible time (like right when your in-laws are coming for a visit). But there are a few things you can do to help prevent them from happening in the first place.

One way to help prevent drain back-ups is by regularly cleaning your drains and sewer lines. This will help remove any build-up of debris, tree roots, grease, etc. that could potentially cause a clog. There are some people who think they can do it themselves, but this job is best left to a professional (like us!).

Another tip is to be mindful of what you’re putting down your drains. Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain, and don’t flush anything other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet (this means making sure your kids don’t try to flush their toys or dead goldfish down the toilet). And if you have trees near your sewer lines, make sure they’re well-maintained so that the roots don’t cause any damage.

If you do end up with a drain back-up, the best thing to do is call an emergency plumber right away. They’ll be able to quickly assess the situation and get your drains flowing properly again. 

So, if you’re seeing signs of a drain backup in your home – whether it’s water pooling in your basement, backed up toilets or sinks, or sewage coming up through the drains – don’t wait! Call an emergency plumber here in Denver immediately and get the problem fixed. And remember, regular drain and sewer cleaning may help prevent nasty backups in the future. Give us a call if you need assistance with this important task.

Three Reasons Your Home Needs Water Filtration

Three Reasons Your Home Needs Water Filtration

What’s in your water? Do you know?

Usually we like to inject a little humor into our blog topics. But this time, we won’t dwell on funny cultural references about things lurking deep beneath Colorado’s reservoirs and rivers, like the Loch Ness monster or the Creature from the Black Lagoon. 

Your drinking water is serious business.

Unless your home taps into well water, your drinking water likely comes from a city water source. While municipal water purification plants work hard to clean our drinking water, more and more pollutants are ending up in city sources.

According to UNESCO, an international environmental watchdog, a whopping 90% of sewage in developing countries is released untreated directly into our bodies of water. Whoa. Yuck.

Furthermore, pollutants from agriculture and urban areas, including industrial factories, often ups the amount of pollution in our water UNESCO said.

Water filtration could safeguard and protect your family for three reasons:

  1. Your drinking water could contain lead, chlorine and other contaminants that a good filtration system could remove.

    According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “research showed that 186 million people in the country—a staggering 56 percent of our population—drank water from systems with lead levels exceeding that recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to protect children.”

  2. Pathogens and other contaminants in the water could be making you sick. 
  3. Sand and silt could be part of your water supply.

Our local water supply

You may have seen articles on the web or in the paper about local fires possibly affecting our Colorado water supply. Basically, burned vegetation means more sediment can end up in our water. More sediment in our water means more chemicals may be used to make our water less cloudy, according to the Denver Channel.

In addition, many people in Colorado may be worried about lead in their water supply. 

Up until the 1950s, lead was used in some Denver water pipes. Though the city pipes have since been replaced, there’s no way to know which home building contractors were using them when they constructed new neighborhoods. If your house was built during the 1950s and before, there is a chance that you still have lead freshwater pipes. We’d recommend having your water tested if you live in an older house. 

The good news? You can get your water tested. Commercial tests are available. You may also qualify for a free lead test from your Denver water supplier here.

How we can help

While most people simply view us as a plumbing repair service, Garvin’s plumbing contractors of Englewood can install whole house or sink filtration systems to safeguard your family’s drinking water supply.

Denver’s water is pretty clean, but is it 100% contaminant free? No. 

If you’re the type of person who buys pesticide-free, non-GMO food, then that one extra step of filtering your water might put your mind at ease. 

A filtration system can remove pathogens, contaminants and sediment. If you sometimes experience discoloration in your water, a good filter can help your water run clear and pure. Plus, filtering your water, whether it is from a well or a city source, can make your water taste better.

Contact Garvin’s Sewer Service of Denver and Englewood today. We would love to talk with you about how a whole house or sink filtration system can deliver the safest, best tasting water for your entire family.

(We are proud to partner with local Denver based ClearView Water for water filtration services.)

Sources:

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-protect-yourself-lead-contaminated-water

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/colorado-wildfires-could-contaminate-drinking-water

Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Should Know: Part 2

Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Should Know: Part 2

Welcome back! If you missed the first part of this blog, read it here. We promise, it’s worth it!

Let’s continue, without further ado, to our final three handy tips for keeping your home’s plumbing in fantastic shape.

Find Lovely Rita meter

We know the old Beatle’s song referenced a different type of meter. But, we’re going to ask you to go on a treasure hunt again and you’ll need a tune to hum as you look. Do you know where your water meter is? It could be inside your house, outside the perimeter, or in your front yard. 

If you have an outdoor water meter pit, you may need to remove a nut to loosen the lid on the cover and remove the cover to look at the meter. 

Once you’ve located your meter and can see the dial, consider running a water leak test to see if you have any slow leaks in your house. Read this blog for instructions. Call Garvin’s if you need help or have any kind of leak.

Push the red button

Someday you may flip the switch on your garbage disposal and nothing will happen. No grinding or usual disposal noises—you’ll hear… nothing instead. You may even have a nasty sink clog to go with it and wonder what to do. 

If that happens, you’ll have at least one trick up your sleeve. You’ll be able to press the reset button. To locate this tiny, red button, look on the bottom of your disposal unit. Once you find the button, pushing it will reset your disposal. See this video for a demo.

The button is like a circuit breaker. It pops out of your disposal unit to cut off the electricity and prevent the unit from overheating.

If you’re in luck and you just tripped overload protector, all could be well again with the reset. If not, your disposal could need fixing or replacing. Call Garvin’s if you need help.

Ditch the drain debris

Drain blockages happen all the time. Dirt, grease, waste and other debris gradually collect and block drains as sure as we all have to pay taxes every year. Blockages are annoying and can be disgusting. They may eventually cause your sewer to back up too.

If that happens, you can call Garvin’s, or you can be proactive and schedule routine sewer maintenance.

There are actually four ways to access your sewer line: An outside pipe (aka riser); a basement or crawlspace cleanout cap; a toilet, or a vent on your roof. Knowing where your access point is will help your technician to help you. Discover which one you have before you have an emergency.

Still not sure? Give us a call. Garvin’s Sewer Service has been the Denver-Metro area’s drain cleaning expert since 1940, the year color TV was invented! 

We clean drains with a blade-tipped cable. The blade spins through the drain line, quickly cleaning the full circumference of the line and pushing out and/or destroying the blockage.

Contact us online or by phone to schedule cleaning and set up routine sewer cleaning service.

Sewer service in Denver and Englewood

The professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service are fast, reliable and can respond to a wide variety of plumbing and sewer problems. Call today, or fill out our online form.

Sources

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/fix-garbage-disposal-reset-button-doesnt-work-68212.html

Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Should Know: Part 1

Owning a home is a two-sided coin. There’s joy in having your own yard, being able to remodel every room to your liking and taking pride in cared-for landscaping. 

Your house isn’t just drywall and wood. It’s where your daughter lost her first tooth, and your cousin surprised everyone by proposing to his fiancée at halftime. It’s where your dad quietly repaired the front porch because he saw you trip on a step. Your home is your sanctuary. 

On the flip side, it takes elbow-grease to keep your domicile ordered and functioning. Roof shingles need repair. Paint cries out to be touched up. Windows always need washing. 

Over the years, we’ve seen it all in the plumbing sphere. We’d like to pass on the benefits of that experience. So, get settled, grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s go through plumbing tips that will keep your domestic kingdom royally ready for creating happy moments.

Test anxiety, not!

First, a pop quiz! Take a sip of your beverage. Now, answer the following questions. It’s ok to speak out loud. Nobody is watching. Except, maybe your cat. Cats are always judge-y; so, ignore the stare.

  1. Where is your main water shut off valve?
  2. Where is your toilet shut off valve?
  3. Do you know how to check your water heater?
  4. Where is your water meter and how do you access it?
  5. Do you know how to reset your garbage disposal?
  6. Where is your sewer clean-out or riser?

Did you know all the answers? 

Did you run and check so that you could answer smugly, “I know that!” That’s good. Knowledge is awesome.

If you didn’t know the answers, or a few were sketchy, read on! 

And, if you knew all, peruse the rest of the blog anyway. You might find some helpful info that will help you win Jeopardy someday.

How to shut it all off

Savvy homeowners schedule maintenance and pay attention to details to prevent bigger issues down the road. Despite best efforts, emergencies happen! 

There may come a time when you need to shut off the water to your house, or shut off water closer to the source because of a backup, pipe breakage or a leak. Let’s go over how. Better to be prepared than scared.

Getting to know your main shutoff valve

If you don’t know where that main water shut off to your house is, let’s find it! If you do, excellent; pat yourself on the back.

You can usually find the valve on the side of your house facing the street, likely in the corner of the basement near the pipes to your sprinkler or outside hose system. If you don’t have a basement, the main valve may be next to your water heater in a utility or laundry room. 

Many main water shut off valves have what is called a ball, or “knife valve.” While this name may conjure up horror-flick images in the more imaginative, it just means the handle is long and can be flipped either vertical (up or down) or horizontal (sideways). If you have this type, remember that vertical lets the water flow through, horizontal shuts the water off.

If your home is older, you may have a gate valve with a circular knob. If yours is this type, you will have to turn the knob clockwise several turns to shut off your water.

If you’ve never had to shut off your water, familiarize yourself with your valve now. While you are at it, inspect the area around the valve for any signs of dripping water or leaks.

Yes, put down the beverage and go look. We’ll wait…. Did you find it? Do you know what you have to do to shut off the water now? Woot! Gold star.

If you can’t find your main shutoff, or discovered evidence of leaky pipes in that area, call Garvin’s. We are here to help with all your plumbing leak repairs.

Going down to toilet town

Moving on, let’s say your plumbing problems aren’t big enough to shut the water to your entire house. Maybe you’ll have a fine day when you walk into the second-most frequented room in the house (after the kitchen, of course) and find the toilet leaking all over your costly ceramic tile.

You’ll want to locate your toilet flush handle, then look behind the toilet and down. You should see the pipes leading to your toilet and the shutoff valve to that pipe. 

For most toilets, you will need to turn the round knob on the shutoff valve a few turns clockwise to shut off the water. If it doesn’t budge, try squirting the valve with a WD40. Need help? 

While you’re down on the floor getting familiar with the toilet, notice if there’s any corrosion around your valve. Is there any water on the floor that didn’t come from your shower? You may need to replace the valve and/or repair your plumbing. Call Garvin’s for help.

While we are in toilet town, it’s a good idea to test your porcelain throne for tank leaks. To do this, perform the blue dye test. Blue dye tablets are available at any hardware store. We’ve written a nifty blog about how to perform the test, check it out.

And… we’d be remiss if we didn’t include our Toilet Health PSA: Please, flush ONLY toilet paper and human waste down your toilet. Nothing else. Nope: Whatever “but” you are thinking, it’s a, “nope.” No “flushable” wipes, no goldfish funerals, no leftover aspirin or cigarette ash. 

If you are still tempted, remember: if it’s something weird you’re flushing, what goes down will probably come back up. Do you really want to see it again, just older and way more disgusting?

Cozy up to your water heater

Next, we are going to visit the hardworking device that keeps everyone in your house super happy: The hot water heater. Hot showers, clean laundry, sparkling dishes: Your hot water heater toils away and you barely notice it’s there.

Well… maybe that should change. Pay your hot water heater a visit once-in-a-while to ensure all is well. 

First, there should be a valve at the top of your heater, similar to your main water shutoff valve. You can turn it off in an emergency. Locate the valve and ensure you are familiar with it (you’re good at this now). See our video for visual help.

Second, know the signs that your water heater may need to be replaced. Notice if the water heater is leaking. Are you getting off-colored water from your faucets? Do you hear noises from your water heater? Is your water heater over 10 years old? All of these factors may indicate replacement is in your near future.

Third, if you have a gas water heater, you should be able to check your pilot light if you run out of hot water and don’t know why. See our video: How to check your pilot light

Quiz an expert

Still have questions about your shutoff valves or water heater? We have quite a few answers! Let us help. Contact Garvin’s online or by phone.

We’ll continue next time with “Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Should Know: Part 2.”  We’ll cover finding your water meter, improving the mood of a grouchy garbage disposal and different types of sewer pipe access. Join us!

Sources

How to Identify a Faulty Water Shut off Valve — Stop Water Damage Before It Destroys Your Home | Peril Protect

3 Ways to Turn Off the Water Supply to a Toilet – wikiHow

Spring tips to keep your plumbing humming

Spring tips to keep your plumbing humming

Spring in Colorado: What a tricky time. It will be sunny one day and cold the next. The wind will howl on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon the sky will be so blue you’ll swear it’s the start of summer. 

Spring, the time of new life and snow melt, is actually the perfect time to check up on the invisible workhorse that toils away for you night and day: your home’s plumbing. 

Let’s revisit five sure-fire spring preventative maintenance tasks to tackle that will keep your plumbing humming along all year.

Check toilets for leaks

Be honest. Have you noticed the water turning on and off in your toilet tank for a while now? Even when you aren’t using a particular bathroom? It’s time to discover why.

Perhaps you haven’t heard your tank making noises. That’s great. 

Leaks can be slow and small though, so you might want to perform the following test just the same. Toilet use accounts for as much as one quarter of the average family’s household water usage per year. If your toilet leaks, that’s a precious lot of water wasted every month. 

Plus, an astounding one in five toilets in the U.S. leaks! Perform this simple test for peace of mind:

  1. Purchase a package of toilet leak detection dye tablets. Garvin’s of Denver, Fredrick, Firestone, Dacono, Greeley and Evans can provide them for you, or you can get them at your local hardware store.
  2. Remove the toilet tank lid.
  3. Open the dye tablet package. Drop the tablets into your toilet tank. The water will turn blue.
  4. Replace the toilet tank lid. Let the tablets dissolve for 10 to 15 minutes. DO NOT FLUSH!
  5. When 10 to 15 minutes have passed, return to your bathroom and check the bowl of your toilet.
  6. Is the water in the bowl any shade of blue? If yes, it means your toilet tank is leaking and wasting water.
  7. Call a plumber for help resolving the leak.

Check outside pipes and hoses

Once the snow melts, it’s time to start thinking about yard maintenance again. The first thing you might want to do is turn on your hoses and give your lawn and bushes a nice drink. Do it slowly.

As you start to turn the water back on to your hose bibbs, notice if they are leaking on the exterior of your home. 

Take a careful look at the interior foundation walls of your house too. Are the walls and ceiling opposite your outside spigot wet? Is unexplained moisture dripping from the ceiling? If so, you may need the help of a plumber to avoid costly damage.

Examine your hoses and sprinklers. Have any heads broken off? Do auxiliary hoses have pin holes that are leaking and wasting water? Replace the heads and old hoses to prevent water waste.

Examine your sump pump

Your sump pump should be there for you when spring rains come and the water table swells. And because we live in Colorado, we can’t always predict when that’s going to be. 

According to freshwatersystems.com, here are a few things to keep in mind when inspecting your sump pump:

  1. The average sump pump needs to be replaced after about 10 years.
  2. Really loud noises from your sump pit aren’t good. Pumps will make some noise. However, if your pump is whining, grinding or protesting and you can hear it upstairs, it may need to be repaired or replaced.
  3. Constant running is a bad sign. Continual pumping could mean part of your pump, such as a float switch, has stopped functioning properly. If your pump runs day and night for no discernable reason, it could wear out quickly. Get it checked by a professional.

To learn more about sump pumps, read this article.

Check your water meter

If your water bill is high and you haven’t increased your water usage, you might have a leak. You can check for possible leakage by checking your water meter.

First, locate the meter. It could be inside your house, outside the perimeter of your house or in your front yard. Here’s how to check it:

  1. Prepare: Turn off all water-using appliances in your house. Wait 30 minutes and proceed with checking your meter. Remember to tell your family not to use any water inside or outside your house for 30 minutes.
    Collect things you might need for the test: a screwdriver (for prying), paper towel (for cleaning off the meter face) a flashlight (in case the light is low around your meter), light gloves (if you have a nice manicure), a notepad and pen.
  2. If you have an outdoor water meter pit, you may need to remove a nut to loosen the lid on the cover and remove the cover to look at the meter. 
  3. Look at the large dial on the meter. Is the dial moving? If not, you may still have a tiny secondary dial that is spinning. If you see either dial moving and everything (including the sprinkler system) that uses water in your home is shut off, you may have a leak. 
  4. Look at the numbers on your meter. Write them down on your notepad. Wait 30 minutes. 
  5. Return to the meter after 30 minutes and note the numbers on your meter. Is the number higher than the first number you wrote down in step 4? You may have a leak.

Even a tiny leak can add up to hundreds of gallons a month in waste. Contact your local plumbing professional for help.

Consider drain and sewer cleaning

Roots from trees in your or your neighbor’s yard begin to seek out water at this time of year. The roots can invade your sewer line and cause clogs over time. Be proactive and call a local sewer cleaning service for preventative maintenance to clear the roots out of your main line before they become a long-term problem that requires a sewer line replacement.

Regular cleaning can also stop those really disruptive sewer line back-ups no one likes. 

Establish a partnership

Garvin’s of Denver and Englewood provides sewer and drain cleaning, preventative maintenance and a full array of plumbing services. We can be your partners in establishing a plumbing maintenance routine as well as come to your aid when you need repairs. 

While we do basic drain cleaning and sewer service, we also employ half-a-dozen service plumbers who replace faucets and toilets, repair leaks, winterize homes, repair and replace water heaters, install gas lines and more. Call today for an appointment or fill out our online form for a quote.

Sources

https://www.sunrisespecialty.com/how-much-water-to-flush-toilet
https://www.freshwatersystems.com/blogs/blog/what-is-a-sump-pump-and-how-does-it-work

 

Why spring is the perfect time for sewer line maintenance

Why spring is the perfect time for sewer line maintenance

Trees look so gorgeous covered with snow in the winter, don’t they? In the autumn they appear to bed down and take nice, long naps. In the spring, they shelter smaller plants. They host birds in their branches.

Trees: Our peaceful manufacturers of oxygen.

Not so fast. Trees also have a less heroic side. 

Deep under the soil, roots grow expansively to help the trees survive. In the spring, some of those roots reach hungrily for water and nutrients like sightless, pale worms. The sneaky tendrils scavenge into cracks everywhere to ferret out liquid survival.

Roots are creeping towards your clay or concrete sewer pipes as you read this. Whispering through the dirt. Maybe some are already in your pipes spanning them and feeding on your household waste, just waiting to cause clogs in your sewer line.

That’s a bit dramatic. And… we do need trees! However, it’s a proven fact that roots can be destructive little buggers. We know this, yet so many of us just ignore them. We go about making pancakes or fitting our Labradoodles with red sweaters like the horror underground is not happening.

Why then are we so very surprised when our sewer lines back up into our showers or basements with tides of smelly yuck? 

An ounce of prevention…

Is worth… well, you know the old saying. Preventative sewer maintenance is worth its weight in platinum. Getting your sewer line routinely inspected and cleared of roots with a bladed cable just makes sense. 

Every spring, plumbing and sewer services in the Denver area get tons of calls about root problems and maintenance. So, now is the time to get ahead of the curve and get your main line cleared of those roots before they precipitate your own personal, foul-smelling drama. 

It won’t hurt the trees…

We promise. But getting your sewer line cleaned will most certainly help your household. Using a bladed cable to “roto-rooter” or cut through the roots in your main line and push the plant matter into your city sewer will get rid of not only the roots, but anything else that might have gotten tangled up in the roots over time. 

This method is more thorough and effective than “jetting” your sewer line with water.

Of course, you still won’t want to flush the following down your toilet:

  • Huge wads of TP
  • “Flushable” wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Paper towel

Getting your pipes bladed out isn’t a license to abuse your pipes. Take care of them by being prudent about what you flush and pour down the drain. Then, root maintenance will help keep your line clear and prevent standing ankle deep in who-knows-what one day. 

It’s best to schedule maintenance every 12 months or more often if you have a large family or a ton of trees. 

It seems like an endless cycle…

If you call Garvin’s we can help you determine what your best long-term preventative maintenance solutions might be. 

Most times, removing trees is costly, unsightly and mean to birds and squirrels.

Another option in reducing invasive root problems is using a non-toxic product like Root-X which foams into your main line to kill roots between main-line cleanings. Root-X is non-caustic and will not harm pipes, septic systems or vegetation above the ground. Other root eaters only sit on the bottom of the pipe, not reaching the top where the roots are growing in.

Confused or unsure about your options? Just ask. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help.

Our video shows we have a problem…

Perhaps another company came to examine or “scope” your sewer line recently and they’re recommending extensive repairs or pipe replacement. They may claim your pipes are broken and need to be excavated. Is replacing your entire sewer line or large portions of it necessary?

We would be happy to view your video and give you a second opinion. Many sewer and drain companies in the Denver Metro area are honest, but some are not. Some simply lack expertise.

We will tell you the truth. We will view your video, explain what we see and brainstorm solutions to your current sewer line issues. Sometimes we can even save you money. Read how we saved one family thousands of dollars in potential repairs by reviewing their scoping video.

Scope, blade, review and repair

At Garvin’s, we are truly sewer line specialists. We know our stuff and we’ll help you steer away from excrement in many forms. We’re here for you all year long to offer preventative maintenance or the right repairs at the right time. We’ll clean your drain, not your bank account. Call for an appointment today.