Warning Signs of a Main Sewer Line Backup

Warning Signs of a Main Sewer Line Backup

In the world of plumbing, the issues that Garvin’s Sewer Service solve all have varying degrees of difficulty. A plugged-up sink or toilet, for example, is typically easy enough to fix through a simple service call but if a backed up or damaged main sewer line is causing the problem, the fix can get significantly more complicated.

Put simply, you need your sewer system to work so waste and water can be taken from your house safely and efficiently. If something is wrong with your sewer line, that waste water is either going to refuse to flush away or may come back in unexpected places. The good news is that the earlier you catch a problem like this, the easier it may be to fix. As with most home repairs, waiting too long is to your detriment.

The following are some of the warning signs that you may have an issue with a sewer main:

#1 Multiple Backed-Up Drains

Usually, the first sign that something is wrong is when you see more than one drain in the home start to back up. All the small drain lines in your house eventually connect to your sewer main, which takes that waste water away from the house. If there’s something wrong with the big pipe that flushes it all away, then the small offshoots that lead to each individual drain will be similarly clogged.

#2 Sewage Backup in Floor Drains

Since your sewer main is underground, the first drains likely to backup would be the ones on the bottom floor. If you’ve got a floor drain in, say, a basement laundry room that starts to back up for no good reason, that could be the first sign that something is wrong with the main line.

#3 Using Water in One Place Causes Backups Elsewhere

You know better than anyone when your house is making sounds it shouldn’t, so when you turn on the bathroom sink and the toilet gurgles, or you flush your toilet and water comes up through the floor drain in your shower, that it’s an obvious sign that something is seriously wrong. These symptoms mean you should call Garvin’s Sewer Service immediately before it gets any worse.

#4 Sewer Cleanout Pipe is Backed Up

The sewer cleanout gives plumbing services access to the sewer main underground and usually is located just outside the home so it can connect with the sewer main that brings waste to the municipal sewer. If sewage is backup up in this vertical pipe, that is yet another sign that a backup is occurring in the sewer main.

Contact Our Sewer & Drain Cleaning Team

Obviously, these symptoms can be problematic for a homeowner because it often keeps you from using the indoor water that is essential to modern living. Most of us don’t have an outhouse and a well to use as a backup if the sewer main goes bad. If you think you need a sewer line cleanout or—in a worst-case scenario—a sewer line replacement, don’t hesitate to reach out to Garvin’s Sewer Service. We specialize in sewer line cleanouts, so if you think you may require our services, remember that these types of things end up much better when handled immediately!

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

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

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

#1 Sewage Backups or Blockages

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

#2 Slow Drain

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

#3 Unpleasant Odors

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

#4 Standing Water in Your Lawn

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

#5 Extra Green Grass

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

#6 Septic Pooling

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

When It’s Time to Contact a Professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2 The Problem Might Be Bigger Than You Think

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

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

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

#4 DIY Is a Big Time Investment

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

#5 Professional Techniques & Equipment Yield Professional Results

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

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

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

The Most Common Spring Plumbing Issues

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

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

The following are the most common spring plumbing problems:

#1 Clogged Outdoor Drains

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

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

#2 Leaky Pipes

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

#3 Line Obstructions

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

#4 Poor Drainage

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

Schedule a Service Appointment

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

What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe

What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe

There are few nightmarish homeowner situations worse than a burst pipe. For starters, many people don’t have the first idea what to do when this happens, but the mess alone is about as frustrating as house damages can get. The professionals at Garvin’s Sewer Service obviously can help, but there are a few things our customers can do while they wait for the professionals to arrive.

If you should experience a burst pipe, follow these tips to help get your home back in working (dry) order.

Step #1: Turn Off the Water

As is the case any time there is water behaving in ways it should not throughout your house, the first step always is to turn off the water. Whatever damage has been done, you can at least minimize any further problems by stopping the water from flowing. To do this, you’ll need to find your water main and turn the lever so it’s perpendicular to the pipe. Once it’s off, you’ll need to drain the pipes, and you can do that by running all the faucets in your house until they go dry. When there is no more running tap water, the leak should stop.

Step #2: Find the Source of the Damage

After you’ve shut off the water, you’ll want to find the source of the damage to assess exactly how big a problem you’ve got. A major water pipe, for example, is a much bigger problem than a single pipe under a sink.

Step #3: Call a Plumber

Your next step will be to make sure you get a professional to your house as soon as possible to begin the repair process. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we specialize in emergency drain cleaning service and ruptured pipes, so if you want to make sure the water is truly stopped and return function to your sinks, showers, and toilets, you’ll need to call us as soon as possible so we can fix the problem and get things functional again.

Step #4: Clean Up What You Can

While you wait for our professionals to show up, you can begin cleaning up whatever water you can. Sometimes, these jobs are too big for a single person to even know where to begin, but if you can use buckets, mops, and towels to clean up some of the mess, you absolutely should. Water damage can easily lead to mold, and the sooner you clean it up, the more likely you are to avoid the worst of that.

Step #5: Consider Hiring a Drying Crew

Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to hire a professional drying crew. They can minimize the formation of mold and get your furniture up on blocks so everything can dry. There may be other repairs in the future, including replacing flooring or drywall, but a drying service can salvage what they can before making those expensive decisions.

It is not ideal to have a pipe burst but remember that Garvin’s Sewer Service can help if this should happen. Never hesitate to call us if this problem arises. We even have a call line for off-hours emergencies should something like this happen in the middle of the night. Either way, we are the plumbing professionals that can help get your pipes fixed and your water working normally again.

Preventing Clogged Drains by Changing Daily Habits

Preventing Clogged Drains by Changing Daily Habits

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

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

#1 Avoid Letting Food Scraps Go Down the Drain

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

#2 Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain

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

#3 Clean Drain Stoppers in Bathroom

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

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

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

#5 Consider Using Drain Screens

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

Contact a Trusted Englewood, CO Plumber

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

She Was Told She Needed a Sewer Replacement But Needed This Instead: True Story

Garvin’s Sewer Service is an Englewood based sewer and drain cleaning company serving the Greater Denver area for over 75 years. They don’t replace sewer lines but rather give objective sewer scopes and free second opinions to help Englewood, Denver, and the surround areas’ homeowners peace of mind before spending thousands on sewer line replacements or repairs.

Recently, a Garvin’s Sewer Service representative received this message:

(Thu, Mar 8, 3:39 PM)

SR: “I have been dealing with sewer plumbing issues for the last couple of months. Finally today I had [Sewer Replacement Company X]* come out and camera my sewer line and they found a “dip” in the pipe under my foundation. They will need to remove concrete in my basement to fix it… Needless to say, I’m just a bit overwhelmed a the moment. Do you have a recommendation for a reliable company that can give me an estimate? [Sewer Replacement Company X] wants $5500 and I just don’t have a feel if that’s reasonable or not.”

Garvins: “Did they leave you a copy of the video?”

SR: “No.”

Garvins: “Ok. A dip isn’t a reason to replace a line unless there is a crack or mud. Are you aware of either of those? The fact that they didn’t leave you the video is suspicious because you paid for it and you are entitled to a second opinion based on it.”

SR: “All the camera showed was about a 2 foot space where the line was full of water and waste”

Garvins: “That’s a belly and it can be cleaned for $200. There should be water and waste in there, it’s a sewer. Without mud or a crack, it doesn’t need to be replaced. Call Mitch at 303-571-5114.”

SR: “Seriously?”

Garvins: “Yes. [Sewer Replacement Company X] is a company know to upsell jobs. Sorry. 🙁”

SR: “Thanks – I’m going to see if I can get him to send me a copy of the video too”

Garvins: “Ok. The video will confirm what you really need and Mitch will look at it for free”

(Thu Mar 8, 4:49 PM)

SR: “The good news is I can get the video. The bad news is I have to wait til Tuesday when the tech gets back to the office to email it to me. Of course he’s on vacation until then.”

Garvins: “Lol. See that’s further proof that it’s not critical because they would start the work ASAP if so. It’s good news.”

SR: “Oh ya. Thanks – I needed that perspective.”

(Thu Mar 15, 10:54 AM)

SR: “You were right – it wasn’t nearly as bad as [Sewer Replacement Company X] said. Mitch was wonderful. I feel sooooo much better. I want to take you to dinner soon because you saved me THOUSANDS of dollars. I needed an opinion from someone I knew I could trust – Mitch was at my house a couple of hours educating me and reassuring me it was ok. It’s the best money I’ve spent in a very long time. I am serious about dinner too. 🙂”


*This is a fake name to protect the company who likes to sell people things they don’t need in order to make a ton of money. Otherwise, this is a completely true and accurate conversation with a very happy customer. And, she’s not the only one!

Garvin’s Sewer Service has saved Denver area customers hundreds of thousands of dollars every single year by cleaning lines other companies have wanted to replace!

There is a time and place for sewer line replacement, but why not get a FREE second opinion to make sure? Call Garvin’s at 303-571-5114 today.

What Is The Difference Between Plumbing Drain Cleaning and Plumbing Repair Service?

For most homeowners, learning comes through trial and error – there is no way one can prepare for every scenario or be educated on all components of home maintenance, and thankfully, they don’t have to. We trust and hire workers all the time to fill specific needs in our personal and work lives depending on their expertise, and our lack, in any given area.

While how-to videos can be found with a simple search, we don’t always have the time, energy or skill to do everything for ourselves, and that’s when we know we need to call in the professionals. When it comes to plumbing, there are a few specialties that knowing about will help you hire better, so let’s cover that today.

The Difference Between Plumbing Drain Cleaning and Plumbing Repair Service

Plumbers come in two general categories: Drain Cleaning and Plumbing. Plumbers can perform drain cleaning services, but in most cases, it is not their specialty. Some don’t like doing it at all and won’t. Drain cleaning technicians specialize in sewer and drain clogs and do little to no plumbing. Here’s why that matters:


Plumbers require a license. They must pull permits, have advanced training, and may choose to specialize in a variety of areas such as plumbing repair service, remodeling work, new build plumbing structures, gas lines and more.

Plumbers can be commission based or earn hourly rates, and in the Denver metro area, the average, according to Indeed.com is $23.29/hr. for a Journeyman (the most common plumber, sandwiched between apprentice and master plumber).

Drain Cleaning

Drain cleaning technicians are not required to have a license in Denver. They aren’t able to pull permits, but they do have advanced training on drain cleaning techniques and tools. They don’t do repair work, remodeling work, gas lines or any other responsibilities of a plumber unless they are training to be one as an apprentice (or have chosen to specialize in sewers and drains as a plumber).

Their pay scale can also be commissioned or hourly, but is typically at a lower rate than plumbers. This is important to note as a homeowner because if you experience a clogged drain or sewer line, it is more affordable and more efficient to hire a drain cleaning technician over a plumber (in our opinion).

“If you experience a clogged drain or sewer line, it is more affordable and more efficient to hire a drain cleaning technician over a plumber”

Sewer Scope

Plumbers, drain cleaning technicians, and sewer scope professionals can perform a sewer scope or video sewer inspection. They are specifically trained to scope a line and access the information they receive from the inspection. If licensed to do so, they can quote you for a sewer line replacement, or they may refer you to a third party.

Garvin’s Sewer Service has been serving the Greater Denver and Boulder resident’s home and business plumbing drain cleaning needs for over 75 years! In order to best meet the needs of our customers, we also offer sewer scope and plumbing repair service.

Sewer Cleaning in Denver – What Has Changed and Why It Matters

Sewer cleaning in Denver may not be the most exciting topic, but it is interesting to learn about how it started and where it is now, because it can determine how you spend your hard-earned money. And money is an exciting topic, especially when we are saving it!

Sewer Cleaning in Denver

Did you know Garvin’s was the first sewer cleaning company in Denver? It’s true! Russell P. Garvin franchised the first sewer and drain cleaning company in the area in 1940. Fifty years later, he separated from that franchise because he believed it better served his customers to not pass on high marketing costs associated with it, birthing Garvin’s Sewer Service. Russell has long passed, but his namesake company remains.

Imagine Denver in 1940


Brown Palace Circa 1935-1940 © HistoricalFindings

Twenty years before the Denver Bronco’s came about and only fifty years after the Brown Palace was built, Garvin’s came to be. It was just after WWII, and the Great Depression was coming to an end.

“Denver’s expansion during the 1940s “was the greatest growth since the 1880s,” said [historian Tom] Noel. “Before that, it had just grown 30,000 or 40,000 people. It was the first big boom since the 1880s gold rush. There was even more dramatic growth in the suburbs…'” Source: Denver Post

How Has Sewer Cleaning Changed?

In 1940, Garvin’s used a truck mounted sewer cleaning machine that was a tightly wound cable with a bladed end that would be manually fed into a sewer line to spin inside the pipe, cutting away debris and pushing it through to the larger city main lines or irrigation ditches.

Today, the same technology is used, but on much smaller units. This is a tried and true method that still works, so Garvin’s continues to rely on it.

Additional technologies have been developed through the years that include water jetting, which is recommended for commercial use only. Smaller tools, such as an auger, are used for minor lines and clogs such as toilets, but are based on the same cable-type system. Video sewer inspections don’t clean lines, but they show the condition of lines and are ideal for discovering problem areas for potential cleaning or sewer line replacement.

Professional drain and sewer cleaning technicians know when to use which tools for the job at hand. Denver’s Garvin’s Sewer Service uses the right equipment with the right methods to give you the sewer and drain cleaning services you need to get the job done right the first time. Effective, reliable, and time-honored, we look forward to serving you!

Sewer Replacement: Should You Invest or Not?

With sewer replacement costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, you may be wondering if it is worth the investment. Of course, on first thought you may feel you have no choice, it is after all, your sewer, the system that allows sewage waste to leave your home. But what you don’t know can hurt you and that’s why we are digging deep (pun intended) to get you the truth.

Do I Really Need a Sewer Replacement?

Have you ever had the horrible experience of having a doctor tell you that you needed a surgery? Did it seem surreal to happen? Typically, in such a case, especially if we are skeptical, or want to determine if there are other options, we will get a second, or even third (or more) opinion. This would be considered by most to be sound advice.

However, when it comes to sewer replacement options, we tend to believe the first person who tells us we need it. Why? Maybe we are scared of spending more time, and/or more money to get a second (or third) opinion. What you may not know however, is that your local sewer and water department, and Garvin’s Sewer Service, give free second looks at your sewer scope video.

This second opinion can help you determine if you truly need a sewer replacement or if there is another option, such as sewer line cleaning. (in fact, Garvin’s has saved their customers over $400,000 in sewer replacement costs by cleaning lines rather than doing unneeded repairs).

Should I Invest in a Sewer Line Replacement?

This has a very simple answer: if you plan to live in the house, yes. If you plan to sell the house, you will likely also need to do the sewer line replacement, or give an allowance for the new owners to do so. It is also possible that you will be approached by the city and required to make repairs, as this Denver Post Sewer Replacement article lays out.

Sewer line replacements are critical, however you do have options depending on your budget, severity, ground conditions and more. Just as you will want a second opinion on whether or not you need a sewer replacement, you will want opinions on the best options.

It’s Ironic But…

Despite our name, Garvin’s Sewer Service doesn’t provide sewer replacement services, but we find many people value our approach to preventative maintenance and cleaning sewers that are still functioning rather than replacing them. Our sewer scope inspections prevent home buyers from getting stuck with a big mess, and our free second opinions save homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. We also know the best sewer repair companies in Denver and are happy to refer them, so give us a call today!