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.

Tips for Keeping Your Sewer Line (& Plumbing) in Top Shape

Tips for Keeping Your Sewer Line (& Plumbing) in Top Shape

Happy New Year! We hope you have an amazing year, full of health and prosperity.

Lots of folks around the world rang in 2022 with cultural traditions. 

  • In Spain, revelers munched down twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to bring luck. 
  • In the Netherlands, families ate pieces of dough fried in fat to keep away evil. 
  • In Denmark, neighbors threw plates at one another’s front doors to banish ill will. 
  • In South Africa, the residents of Johannesburg threw furniture out of windows to make a fresh start in the New Year. 

Here in Colorado we like to commune with nature on holidays and we often do things for a cause. From Evergreen to Ouray, people threw on their swimming suits and jumped into freezing water to raise money for charity on New Year’s Day. (Brrrr. Anyone heard of the 5K where you sleep in, keep warm and just donate?)

We’re sure all of these events were fun and worthwhile, but we suggest establishing a more pragmatic New Year’s tradition. Start your year off right by paying attention to your plumbing! After all, your pipes and sewer line work hard for you all year long. Making sure they’re in working order early on can ensure many happy (non-) returns. Here are tips to help:

Flush your lines

First, make sure you don’t have clogged pipes. If you do, call a plumber like Garvin’s. 

  1. Head to your kitchen sink and turn on the hot water tap full blast. 
  2. Run the water about 30 seconds. Shut off the tap and wait for any water to drain completely.
  3. Place 1 cup of baking soda in your drain. 
  4. Slowly pour 1 cup of vinegar over the baking soda. You will hear fizzing and bubbling. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Finally, rinse the vinegar and soda and any loosened debris down your sink by turning the hot water on a second time at full blast for about 30 seconds. 

Can the grease

Never. Ever. Never. Put grease down your drains. Store it in a jar or can and throw it in the trash instead. 

Limit food disposal

You’ll save your main line and your garbage disposal if you limit the amounts and kinds of food you put down your kitchen sink. See the garbage disposal section of this blog for what to avoid putting in your disposal.

Favor focused flushing

Remind your family and friends to never flush anything down your toilet except toilet paper. Nope. No meds. No deceased guppies. No sanitary products. No smoking products. No expired makeup. Just… none of that. It always ends badly. Take our word for it.

Scope your line

If you have an older home with clay or cast iron sewer pipes, this is a good year to have them inspected with a sewer scope. Sewer lines can shift, break and be infiltrated by tree roots and keeping them cleared will help them last. An inspection will ease your mind about their condition and make your plumbing one less thing to think about.

Watch those roots

Speaking of tree roots. Keep an eye on your tree roots. They are a major cause of sewer line damage. If your drains are slow, your toilets gurgle, you experience bad smells from your drains, or you feel soft, watery patches in your yard, you may have roots in your line, which Garvin’s can easily and affordably clean out.

Plan preventative measures

Ask a reputable plumbing services company like Garvin’s Sewer Service to clean your sewer line once or twice a year. The frequency depends on how often roots get into your line, how many people live in your home, the length of your line, the material your sewer line is made of as well as the age of your home and plumbing.

Garvin’s of Denver, Englewood and Boulder can help you with preventative sewer line maintenance, sewer inspection, drain cleaning, garbage disposal repair and replacement and more. Contact us today for a Speedy Fast Quote or call us anytime.

Sources

20 Unique New Year’s Eve Traditions from around the World (bestlifeonline.com)
7 Strange New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World – SeeThru (seethrumag.com)
Baking Soda and Vinegar Drain Unclogging Tricks – Plumbing Sniper
4 Signs You Have Tree Roots in Your Pipes | Choate’s HVAC and Plumbing (choateshvac.com)

Core Values

Garvin’s Sewer Service Core Values: Communication

At Garvin’s we created a Code of Conduct that includes 6 Core Values. Today we want to explain Communication and what it means to us.

We define Communication as:

Information is given and received with confirmation. We will accept responsibility for all communication we are involved with, from start to finish. We will give appropriate information and provide confirmation of receipt of information and instructions.

How Communication Looks for Us

In full transparency, communication is a value we work on developing each and every day. There is never a day where our team looks at each other and says, “Wow, we’ve finally perfected communication.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are days we do pretty well, but it is a conscious, ongoing process to keep communication healthy and active. This is true one-to-one and organizationally. With so many methods of communication these days: text, phone, chat, e-mail, meetings, Zoom, memos, handouts…. It can be easy to get a message lost.

“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”

– Nat Turner

Consider for a moment the customer journey, which many of you have experienced, but may not know the workflow, or thought of it before:

A customer calls us, or emails us with a work order.

We gather all the needed information, including contact information and diagnosis of the problem so we can send the best technician for the job. The information we gather informs the dispatcher who to send when and informs the technician what they need to bring to the job and what they should expect.

Sometimes, the office needs to call the customer to confirm details, schedule, or get more information. Sometimes, the customer misses our call, has us blocked as spam, or makes an assumption about our arrival. These are all areas where communication can fail. We do our best to stay proactive.

The dispatcher assigns a technician to the service call.

We use technology that provides the job information to the technician. It is their responsibility then to call the customer with an estimated time of arrival and mark themselves on route to communicate to the dispatcher that the information was received and acted upon. When a technician doesn’t do either step, there is a hole in communication that can result in customer confusion and the . It can result in us running late for an appointment window and the dispatcher needing to make changes in order to meet customer expectations

To help close this hole, we are installing GPS units in our vans this year. We hope this will give us a clearer picture of where technicians are in their day, so we can better dispatch and get more customers taken care of. We understand technicians don’t always have cell service, especially when they are in basements and crawlspaces. They are also not able to always answer a phone, such as when they are running a drain cleaning machine, talking to a customer, or being walked through a building by a property manager.

The technician notifies us about the progress of their call.

Once the technician is onsite, they mark themselves as working. This is a safety protocol for our technicians and also alerts dispatch so they can queue up the next service call. When the technician completes their service call, they mark themselves done, which also notifies dispatch so they can be given their next call.

In their job summary they tell us:

  • What work was done
  • What the blockage was and how far (this helps customers understand why the problem occurred in the first place)
  • The access point used to clear the drain (this helps future techs know where to look, and let’s the customer know for ease in the future)
  • How long the work is guaranteed (typically 30 days on commercial lines and 90 days on residential lines, except for abuse or broken lines)
  • Any other remarks or notes, including pictures
  • How the customer paid (this helps accounting keep good records)

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it, it dies.”

– Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

Weekly, we run a report of all calls.

This report helps us generate statistics and more information that keeps our business running. It helps us to pay our technicians their flat rate per job, restock parts, issue materials and supplies needed for future work, invoice, pay payroll and bills, and address any concerns.

We all know that a major key to lifelong relationships starts with communication. It is part of every practice and procedure in business. All of us working together and communicating is what has kept us in business for over 80 years.

We hold regular meetings

Twice a month, we meet with our technicians to go over administrative announcements, a safety topic and a training topic. We also celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and answer questions. This year we are further expand on our core value of communication by offering weekly “virtual office hours” where technicians can bring questions, comments, and concerns to the management team.

The management team meets weekly to discuss a variety of topics to keep everyone in the loop. Because we are a small office, anything that comes up of an urgent need is addressed right away. We have an open door policy and rely on each other for sharing information and knowledge. I believe this is one of Garvin’s strengths.

Management training

Part of our management training includes focusing on communication. We’d have training on communication across the generations, understanding ourselves in the light of the DISC assessment, and we’ve had facilitator led brainstorming sessions to help foster more communication as a management team.

While we are a small, family-owned business, we aren’t a “mom & pop”. We have a lot of foundational habits that take the best practices of business plus human-focused considerations to build a strong company for years to come.

A few questions for you

If you are our customer, how have we done with communication? What could we do better?

As a business owner, how do you ensure communication with the right people, at the right time, happens consistently in your business?

How have you seen communication help or hinder a relationship? What advice do you have to help those of us who are continually improving communication?

Looking for a plumber who holds themselves to code of conduct that includes communication and organizational development? Garvin’s Sewer Service would like to earn your business.

What can go wrong with plumbing in a newer home

What can go wrong with plumbing in a newer home

You love the thought of a new home. New kitchen. Open floor plan. The office with a view. The yard with so much potential!

Perhaps you’re getting ready to leave your current home behind, or you’ve purchased a new house and you’re excited to settle in.

Once-upon-a-time we covered what can go wrong with plumbing in older homes. Unfortunately, even though a new home seems like a fairy tale dream come true, things can still go awry.

Here are 5 plumbing issues that can occur in new homes—even Camelot.

  1. Roots: You heard us. Even new builds can have root issues in pipes. Roots can enter your sewer line in two ways: through the normal, healthy joints or through or through a break in the line. While we hope there are no breaks in the sewer line of your new home, it’s possible that on a new build, the ground can adjust and cause a line to separate. If you have a sewer back up, we can clean and camera the line to make sure it is clear AND that there are no problems with the sewer line itself.In Colorado, our long periods of drought mean plants get powerfully thirsty. So, it doesn’t take much for new plants to seek out the available water in a home’s sewer lines. While we’re on the topic, some trees and shrubs have particularly aggressive roots, so it’s important to think about what types of trees and shrubs you will plant around your new home, if you have a choice. Poplars, elms, oaks and juniper shrubs can cause particular issues. Remember that a new tree will have a root system that extends 2-3 times farther than the crown of your tree. Think of what those roots will do to plumbing while planning your landscaping.
  1. Blocked drains: During construction, builders sometimes aren’t careful about ensuring construction debris stays away from plumbing. Building “leftovers” can make their way into your plumbing and partially or entirely block drains, creating headaches for future homeowners.
  1. Leaky faucets: When you move into a new home, check each sink, shower, tub and outdoor faucet to ensure they aren’t leaking. You may have broken fixtures or need new washers or fittings. Even tiny leaks can add up to big water loss over time.
  1. Running toilets: Toilets that make noise when you aren’t in the room are sad, unhealthy toilets. Wish you could test your toilets for leaks? You can! Do the blue dye test in as little as 15 minutes to see if your toilets need the help of a professional. We’ve put together a short video to show you how.
  1. Inspection protection: Want peace of mind? Be proactive. Ensure all of the afore-mentioned issues don’t become your issues when you move into a new home. Call a friendly, reputable company like Garvin’s to do a sewer inspection and a professional walkthrough. We can perform any needed maintenance and help ensure your new home is in great shape when you move in.

Whether you’re dreaming of moving into a castle with a five car garage, or downsizing to a townhome with a smaller yard, Garvin’s Sewer Service in Englewood can help you with all of your plumbing and sewer service needs. We proudly serve homeowners in the greater Denver and Boulder areas and are excited to be expanding more in the north, serving Brighton, Broomfield and Evans, Colorado. Our services are speedy and priced right and our technicians are top-notch. Call 303-571-5114 today, or contact us for a quote.

How to prepare your plumbing for the holidays

How to prepare your plumbing for the holidays

The last goblin has disappeared into the night and now the winter holidays are coming: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, to name a few. Are you planning to get together with friends or family?

We thought so. It’s time to get prepared! Unpack the good plates and holiday linen, make sure the fireplace works, dust off the table leaf, take the dog in for a bath and… get your pipes ready to handle all those people! 

Sinking feelings

Hungry this morning? Did you make a big egg scramble with hash browns and bacon? Remember all that yummy bacon grease that was left in the skillet? Were you a tiny bit tempted to pour some of it down your kitchen drain to save time? Even the littlest bit with hot water?

Please don’t do it! 

Putting oil and grease down your kitchen drain can create clogs and lead to a big old sewer back up in your future. That grease may liquify with hot water and go down your kitchen sink. But eventually, it will cool off on its journey through your pipes and solidify. After a bit, layer upon layer will build up in your pipes and then you’ll have a mess. Maybe right after candle lighting, dessert or opening gifts.

So always, always, let that grease cool off in a disposable container and put it in the trash, not down the sink.

Garbage in, garbage out

Your garbage disposal can be a great friend, grinding up bits of food to help flush them down to your main line. It can be a friend IF you treat it properly. The problem: Most folks want to quickly throw everything down their disposal. 

Truthfully, you just can’t. You see, your disposal is like a toothy amusement park ride for food. 

SAY WHAT? 

Have you ever been to a county fair or maybe Six Flags and climbed aboard one of those spinning rides that push you against the wall like a fly while the bottom drops away from your feet? 

Food in your disposal gets pushed against the sides of your disposal by that same spinning or centrifugal force as it grinds. If it’s the right kind of small food, your disposal will grind it up and cold water will wash it down your pipes and away.

If it’s the wrong kind of food, it will get slammed against the sides of your disposal and stick there, eventually making your whole sink smell nasty. Or, that food will wind up stuck just a little further down in your drain trap or pipes and cause a clog. 

Your disposal is meant to help you get rid of little bits of food as you rinse plates. It’s not meant to grind up big chunks or take care of clog culprits like these:

  • Eggshells
  • Coffee
  • Meat
  • Celery or fibrous foods
  • Potato skins or fruit pits
  • Grits or heavy grain foods
  • Grease and oil

Watch this video from Southern Living for a for an informative list of additional foods NOT to put down your disposal.

Tank toilet trauma

New towels, plenty of pillows, cleaned comforters: check, check, check. You want your friends and family to be comfortable staying at your house. Keeping them happy can extend to your toilet paper (T.P.), but did you know some kinds of T.P. can cause your pipes to clog more quickly?

Choose septic safe and highly biodegradable tissue to keep your plumbing in shape. Click here for a list of the fastest dissolving brands of T.P. (Yes, some of your favorite brands are on the list!) Many of these tissues are made from non-tree sources which is better for our environment too.

Just in case the unthinkable happens and your toilets back up this holiday season: Keep our number handy. Garvin’s of Englewood is available anytime to help you during an emergency.

Frozen – Let it go!

Prevent frozen pipes this season. Be sure to check your outside hose bibbs soon, disconnect all of your hoses from the outdoor spigots and let them drain. Where possible, turn off the water to your outside hoses for the winter.

According to Apollohome.com, leaving your hoses attached to your hose bibbs can retain the water in your faucets. The water can freeze and expand during cold spells, crack your bibbs or burst your pipes. You don’t want to have to shut off your water and deal with that mess during the holidays.

To keep pipes inside your home from freezing, keep your thermostat set to a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Maintenance makes merry

Want to be worry free? Consider getting your drains cleaned by Garvin’s to ensure your house is truly ready to receive extra guests this season. Our drain cleaning machine uses a tightly wound cable with sharp blades on the end. The blades spin at a high rate of speed through your drain line, cleaning the full circumference of the line to push out or destroy blockages.

We recommend you get your sewer line cleaned once per year to maintain your drains.

Reach out all year long

Garvin’s of Denver and Englewood serves the Denver metro area. We are family-run and trusted by many of your neighbors. Contact our sewer and drain cleaning team at 303-571-5114 and let us help you get ready for the holiday season. 

The Dangers of Drain Cleaning

The Dangers of Drain Cleaning

Every once in a while we have customers call us complaining that the drain cleaning service we provided broke their drain line. Because of this, I wanted to give more information about the dangers of drain cleaning to help homeowners, property managers and the like, better understand the process and impacts of drain cleaning.

How is Drain Cleaning Performed?

At Garvin’s Sewer Service, we use a Roto-Rooter(r) machine. This machine consists of a cable with blades on the end. When the machine is plugged into a power source, the technician uses a pedal to control the power as he guides the cable through the pipe.

A Little History of the Drain Cleaning Machine

The Roto-Rooter Franchise developed the machine used for drain-cleaning and it has been used for over 80 years. Garvin’s started as a franchisee of this organization and uses this type of machine still today. On average, we clean 40 drains per day, 365 days a year, and have for over 80 years. We aren’t the only one. Hundreds of thousands of drains are cleaned every year by thousands of drain-cleaning companies across the country.

In addition to this machine, often referred to as a snake or roto-rooter, there is something called a jetter or hyrdojet. This type of drain cleaning machine uses high powered water pressure to blast through clogs.

We believe blades and knives on a cable are the most effective against root intrusion in the sewer line. We also believe these snakes are best at clearing clogs – whether hair, food, scale or toilet paper. We use a jetter for jobs we think it is best for. In our experience, that is grease, core, mud, and sand.

How Does a Drain Line Break During Cleaning?

The blades on the end of the machine have a slight inward bend to them. They are sharp, and are often referred to as knives or blades and do exactly what you’d expect – they cut debris out of the line. These blades spin the circumference of the pipe, and should scrape the edges of the pipe clean.

On a main sewer line, a heavy duty machine is used with 4” blades, which matches the circumference of the sewer line. On inside lines, again the blades match the circumference of the line and range from 1 ½” to 3”. Typically, a smaller machine is used for these lines.

Because the knives spin through the circumference of a pipe, the only way they are able to break a line is:

  • The line is damaged already and the machine catches that bad spot and makes it worse
  • The line is damaged already and the machine scrapes off the buildup that is holding things together
  • The line is improperly plumbed causing the machine to turn back on itself or go the wrong direction

Can a Plumber Break a Drain Line?

Yes, a plumber can break a drain line, but it is not caused by the use of a drain cleaning machine. A sewer snake can get “stuck in a line”, and this can be due to an error by the drain technician.

Let’s face it, everyone makes mistakes and even the most experienced drain techs can get a cable stuck. This could happen if they give too much slack, have a old or weak cable, or misgauge the feel on the cable while running it. Remember, when a drain cleaner is running your line, he is doing it blind. He can’t see, he can only feel, smell, and look for clues based on how the water is draining and what he is pulling back.

Why Do Drain Lines Break?

Water is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. It built the Grand Canyon! Of course, the plumbing in your house isn’t thousands of years old, but that doesn’t mean water hasn’t caused corrosion on your pipes. Plus, water isn’t the only substance flowing through your drain lines.

Typically, we see drain lines fail when:

  • They have corroded from age
  • They have corroded from chemicals (use of chemical drain cleaners, water pH, etc.)
  • They have been impacted by root growth
  • They have been impacted by earth settling
  • They have been damaged by equipment such as from boring or trenching

Video sewer scope services from Garvin's Sewer Service

Who is Responsible for Broken Lines?

While there are times that a contractor is responsible for broken lines, you will find most have a Hold Harmless Clause for pre-existing conditions. Many homeowners simply don’t understand how drain cleaning or plumbing works, and therefore don’t understand the importance of preventive maintenance to reduce the chances of broken lines, either exposed through the drain cleaning process, or those that reveal themselves and require an emergency plumber.

Our Hold Harmless Clause states exclusions for our responsibility for damages caused because of pre-existing conditions and these include:

  • Leaking water pipes
  • Broken or damaged drain pipes
  • Plumbing code violations/outdated plumbing
  • Lead piping
  • Cast iron pipes
  • Galvanized pipes
  • Fixture damage such as cracks in toilets, tanks, supply lines or sinks
  • Hidden pipes such as bathtub p-traps and drum traps
  • Electrical lines and outlets – seen or unseen near plumbing

Other Dangers of Drain Cleaning

When a drain is cleaned, there is a chance that pre-existing conditions can be exposed, causing leaking and water damage. If a chemical drain cleaning product is used, such as those sold over the counter, like Drain-o or Liquid Plmbr, those can sit in the line and cause corrosion. High pressure water jetting can cause flooding if the lines are in poor condition.

However, the benefits of cleaning drains are significant. Left untreated, uncleaned drains can:

  • Cause sewage backups that negatively impact property and the health of the home’s occupants
  • The inability to use the plumbing including not having running water
  • Sewage and sanitary issues
  • Complete blockage of the sewer or drain line which requires emergency repairs – failure to do so can make the home uninhabitable

Preventative maintenance is the key!

Preventative maintenance not only keeps roots at bay to prevent bigger problems, but also allows a review of your current plumbing systems to support repairs rather than replacement.

Cleaning is ALWAYS less expensive than replacing the line and can be done in almost all cases of blockages/ clogs. How often preventative maintenance is performed will depend on your unique situation. How often roots get in your line, how many people live in your home, the length of your line, the material your sewer line is made of, the age of your home and plumbing… these all play a part in determining the frequency of cleaning.

For most people, an annual cleaning, or cleaning every other year is sufficient. Our drain techs are experienced in making a recommendation after cleaning your line about the frequency to consider.