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

 

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)

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 curse of the clogged sewer line

The curse of the clogged sewer line

Ghosts, zombies, bats and vampires! In October, all things frightening are bound to appear before month’s end. 

But there’s something scarier than Edgar Allen Poe read around the campfire.

Something more chilling than your favorite horror movie. Something guaranteed to strike fear in the bravest of hearts…

The hulking marauder that cares for no-one. That smelly destroyer from deep below: 

The Backed Up Sewer! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 

Calm your racing heart. Fighting this beast is in our wheelhouse.

What causes a backup?

A sewer line gets clogged over many days or months. Think of your pipes as a potential Stephen King villain. If they get mistreated again and again, eventually you will receive epic payback.

Thankfully, your plumbing system will often warn you that something wicked your way comes:  Your bathtub may be slow to drain, your sink drains could get sluggish and your toilet or sink could gurgle. 

Worst of all, you could smell foul odors from a drain or appliance. Ick—time to get help! 

Five things that can cause sewer line backup are:

  1. Roots
  2. Oil and grease
  3. Foods like eggshells
  4. Pumpkin seeds or pumpkin parts (beware!)
  5. Flushable wipes, sanitary supplies, paper towel

ROOTS: As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, thirsty tree roots can break into your pipes and grow tiny hair-like threads that ball up and clog your main line. It’s best to get the roots cleaned out of your system at least once a year by a company like Garvin’s.

FOOD: Your kitchen garbage disposal should only be used to get rid of bits of leftover food when rinsing dishes. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not good to put eggshells down your disposal. Of course, never pour oil or grease down your sink drain. Coffee grounds and rice cause problems too, and even at Halloween, seeds, pumpkin guts, gourd and squash skins are a no-no. Put all of these in the trash, not through your pipes.

This includes the health smoothie your spouse makes you every morning! You hate it; you want to pour it down the shower drain in secret. But, it may contain pumpkin or carrots and all sorts of fiber. Trust us, it will COME UP AGAIN (true story) and create a plumbing disaster.

TRASH: In almost every restaurant bathroom, you see “be kind to our pipes, only flush toilet paper” signs. The same is true for your home. Don’t flush paper towel, sanitary products, wipes, toys, loser Halloween candy, or any trash besides human waste and toilet paper. No. Not even once!

What do you do during a backup?

Say that smoothie comes bubbling up in all its orange glory from the shower drain. Your toilet overflows in a disgusting tidal wave, or your basement drain backs up and foul water threatens your belongings. 

What do you do?

  1. Don’t panic. You will get through this.
  2. DO NOT flush toilets or do laundry. Limit your water usage.
  3. Remove any valuables that are threatened by the backup. (In fact, keep these items off the basement floor/out from under the sink always.)
  4. Call Garvin’s Emergency Drain and Sewer Service.
  5. Contact your homeowners insurance to see if sewer line back-ups/clean ups are part of your policy, if you think that is needed. (We have a few referrals in mind for restoration, carpet/floor, drywall, etc. who we have vetted if you need them – just ask.)

Why call Garvin’s?

We are a third-generation, family-owned company with over 80 innovative years of service history! For eight decades, Garvin’s of Englewood and Denver has cared for people just like you who need an ally in an emergency. 

We employ leading industry practices for drain cleaning. We use reliable products. Our service doesn’t hurt plants or wildlife or cause problems with metal or plastic plumbing. Our 30-member staff includes several of the best plumbers in the metro area. We’ve seen it all and know how to help. Contact us today.

The Miracle of Modern Plumbing

The Miracle of Modern Plumbing

We hope you had a restful Labor Day! Perhaps you even went camping? There’s nothing like a fun stint in the woods with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. 

Until you encounter a pit toilet or a “Luggable Loo” and then, suddenly, you really appreciate home and… plumbing. 

In honor of this time of year when we take a rest from toil, let’s quickly survey the history of one of our most incredible labor-saving systems—modern plumbing. 

Before we begin, if you play Scrabble, take notes. The story of plumbing is full of cool words that might just pump up your score.

Persia

Ancient Iranians or Persians built Qanats or Kariz to supply their communities with fresh water. Qanats were constructed of vertical channels dug from the surface of hillsides deep into the earth and connected to a horizontal channel engineered to carry water where it was most needed. The Persians connected the qanats to Ab Abnars or big, tower-like cisterns to hold water. Many quanats are still in use today.

Ancient Iranians understood that removing waste water from their communities helped their people to thrive. They conceived systems for sanitation in the city of Zabol which is on the border of modern Afghanistan.

China

The Chinese are known for inventing paper and noodles. But, few people know that the Chinese dug deep, complicated wells for drinking water up to 7000 years ago! 

The ancient Chinese not only knew how to establish long-lasting sources of water, they knew they needed to take care of them. The I-Ching, an important Chinese text written in 1000 BCE, advises readers how to maintain and protect sources of drinking water. Archaeologists found evidence of plumbing from the first imperial dynasty which dates to 221 BCE.

Pakistan and Northern India

Modern-day Pakistan and Northern India comprised the Indus Valley in ancient times. In the city of Lothal in the valley, people had their own indoor covered toilets which were routinely emptied and cleaned as early as 2350 BCE. Nearby cities contained bath houses which were emptied into pipes that flowed into common drains. 

In what is now Pakistan, houses drew water from wells and drained waste water into covered drains in the street.

Greece

Travel to Knossos today on the Island of Crete and you can still see the ruins of the ancient Minoan civilization. The paintings etched on the walls there look slightly Egyptian and their colors are still vivid.  Minoans were some of the first people to use underground clay pipes for carrying and eliminating waste water. Later, Cretans engineered some of the first flush toilets on Earth. 

A Greek inventor named Heron invented a system in 62 ACE to put water under pressure and use it to fight fires in Alexandria, Greece, a city of over 5 million people desperately in need of such ingenuity.

Rome

The ancient Romans built an incredible system for sanitation called the Cloaca Maxima which drained overflow water around Rome into the Tiber River. They built public toilets (from photos, they look like stone, open-air pit toilets) over the Cloaca Maxima and the sewage was carried away by the river. 

The Romans also developed a huge, intricate system of aqua ducts that carried water into the city from the nearby mountains. Parts of the aqua ducts and associated piping were constructed from clay, stone and lead. In fact, our modern word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for “lead,” plumbum

Some historians theorized that the fall of the Roman Empire started after much of the city was retrofit with lead pipes. However recent scientists think that the Roman water was so full of calcium it formed a protective layer inside the pipes and the Roman water was never in full contact with lead.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, cleanliness rituals were often tied to religious or philosophical practices. In Nepal, constructing a drinking fountain for others to use was considered a virtuous act. The Nepalese built a drinking water system made of hiti, or stone fountains that funneled water from deep underground sources, as early as 550 ACE. 

As far back as the 7th century, Islamic purity practices required ritual washing and bathing which fostered an entire industry to build bath houses throughout nations that practiced Islam.

Europeans in the Middle Ages were not as concerned with cleanliness or hygiene. Waste water sometimes ran in open channels down the middle of streets. This lack of fastidiousness and poor sanitation led to the spread of the Black Plague. The first closed European sewer wasn’t constructed until 1370 ACE. 

In the 16th century, Sir John Harington of England invented his version of the flush toilet for Queen Elizabeth I and waste from the device sluiced into a cesspool. Lucky Sir John—many people in the English speaking world still refer to him when Mother Nature calls.

Modern Era

By the year 1535, politicians began to enact legislation in England to keep the central river in London, the Thames, free of waste. The legislation was ignored and construction of an actual sewer system didn’t begin until the mid-to late-1800’s, meanwhile cholera ravaged London in a series of epidemics.

By the end of the 19th century, many large cities in Europe and the U.S. established underground sewer systems. Studies in the UK and Germany led to an understanding that disease could be transmitted by contaminated water and eliminated by water treatment and filtration.

Today modern water and sewage pipes are made not from wood, stone and lead, but of steel, copper and plastic. The modern materials are more durable and easier to install than their ancient counterparts. 

Galvanized steel pipe can last up to 50 years though it can sometimes corrode. Copper pipe is clean and efficient, but extremely expensive today. Plastic piping comes in seven different varieties for various uses from PVC to PEX-AI-PEX which contains a layer of aluminum between layers of plastic. 

In the United States, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates sewer utilities and monitors the safety of drinking water. Our nation passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 which improved the treatment of waste and began to protect our natural water resources. We passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974 to monitor major contaminants in our drinking water. 

At Garvins, we care about you, your water and your sewer system. We do sewer cleaning, drain cleaning, sewer camera inspection and preventative maintenance. Contact us today for a Speedy Fast Quote or call us anytime.


Sources:

History of water supply and sanitation – Wikipedia
https://www.hydratelife.org/the-qanat-an-ancient-technology-still-delivering-water-today/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing
Water supply and sanitation in the United States – Wikipedia

 

 

Love your plumbing and your sewer line and they will love you back

Love your plumbing and your sewer line and they will love you back

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “M.”

Give us an “M,” give us an “A,” give us an “I”… ok this will take forever. M A I N T E N A N C E is today’s featured “M” word. Many of us MOAN about MAINTENANCE. It’s MIGHTY easy to put off. 

It can also be a bit MYSTERIOUS: What do you do, when and how often? We’ll talk about that.

Mainly, we’ll point out why regular plumbing maintenance is all about MAD LOVE. Read on! 

Think like a pipe

If you were a water pipe, you would be proud of your job. You would carry clean water to toilet tanks, provide showers, fill the spaghetti pot and keep the family pooch from getting parched. 

As a pipe you might get frustrated if all that water was wasted, making the toilet run, the washing machine leak or the exterior hose drip. 

Maintenance is all about making your pipes, fittings and connections happy. They’re unseen, but they work hard. How can you love your pipes?

  • Regularly test for leaking and running toilets.
  • Cozy up under your sink, tub or swamp cooler to observe the pipes there. 
  • Take a good look at your water heater. 
  • Examine outside connections and fittings.

Any drips or pooling water? You may need some help.

Stay alert for changes in water pressure too. Changing water pressure can be caused by leaks, malfunctioning valves and more.  

Caring for your pipes means caring for your family. We recommend you run plumbing spot checks each year or every other year depending on the age of your house. 

Garvin’s of Englewood can help you remember routine maintenance if you forget, or perform the maintenance for you. Cared for plumbing works well, serves you better and can protect your house from future damage.

Salute the swirl

Say you find yourself sleepily showering in the morning. Water collects around your ankles, but there isn’t a stopper holding the water there. You want to ignore the pool and simply go to work, letting the water slowly drain out over time. But, you really shouldn’t. Something is wrong. 

Your tub or shower drain should have a good, strong swirl when you shower or let the water out. Water shouldn’t sit, drain slowly, or back up. 

Likewise, if you brush your teeth in the bathroom sink and the toothpaste foam sits like an island on a sad sea that takes forever to drain, it’s not good

Neither is a dishwasher that smells like something died in it, a ring around the kitchen sink because the water won’t disappear,  or a toilet that burps or flushes itself (seriously, not good).

All of these things can be a sign of clogs, leaks, blocked vents and more. Problems with your pipes and drains can put enormous pressure on your plumbing as a whole. Stressed pipes can burst or fail, damaging flooring, ceilings and creating costly repairs from water or sewage.

You can maintain that healthy swirl by not putting items down your toilet or drain that create blockages. Place screens on your shower drains to prevent hair from blocking the drains. Don’t flush sanitary items or even “flushable wipes” down your toilets.

Though you might want to take care of unseen clogs quickly, think twice about using chemicals to clear your drains. Many solutions on the market can corrode your pipes and hurt the environment. Garvin’s of Englewood specializes in emergency drain cleaning and we can help. 

Plan your prevention

In addition to loving up your pipes, fittings and drains, you’ll need to apply the “M” word to regularly clearing the main line to your sewer. Why? Ahem…

A toilet haiku

Bubbling and brown
Help: that stuff just won’t go down!
Steel blades create peace

With a bladed machine, Garvin’s clears away roots that can enter your main line, ball up and create obstructions. Regularly clearing away roots can prevent costly, messy backups into your toilet, shower and basement.

How often you need to clear your main line depends on many factors:

  • How many trees grow into your line
  • How fast the roots grow
  • How many people are in your household
  • Weather conditions like drought

A Garvin’s of Englewood technician can examine your lines and recommend a cleaning schedule that fits your property. Most commonly, our customers clean their line every 6-12 months.

Set up a schedule

If you pay a little attention to your pipes, drains and main line, they’ll serve you well for years to come. At Garvin’s, we may not be incredible poets, but we are experts in our field of plumbing. Call us. Together, we can set up plumbing and sewer line maintenance schedules that will keep your plumbing systems running smoothly.

Does hot weather affect your plumbing?

Does hot weather affect your plumbing?

Oh, yes. It does.

Mother Nature’s frigid fingers can cause pipes to burst during our cold winter months in Colorado. But, did you know extreme heat can be a concern too?

Beat the UV

Most of us live at least 5,280 feet above sea level here in our beautiful Centennial State. We wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else, but the altitude and the views come with a price.

The strong UV rays that prompt many of us to slather on sunscreen, or at least slap on a sturdy ball cap to keep from burning to a crisp outside, can damage outdoor fixtures, pipes and fittings too.

What to do? Now that you’re aware, take a look at all of your exterior faucets (hose bibbs) and hoses. Do you see anything worn or leaking?

Maintain your exterior faucets by replacing washers and fittings or call us to do it for you. We can help you repair, maintain or replace your hose bibbs and keep everything in great shape. For more information on hose bibbs, read our last blog.

Replace garden hoses or repair them. Hose repair kits are available at many hardware or home improvement stores. Consider buying a reel or decorative container to store and protect your hose from the elements. Check out this fun blog for several ways to extend the life of your garden hose.

Prepare for guests

After so many months of isolation, it’s time to invite friends and family over for burgers and brats on the grill! A few out-of-town guests might want to stay as well: your sister and her husband, the three kids, Uncle Melvin, Grandma Esther and your best friend from Michigan…

You’re going to welcome them all with open arms, but your plumbing might groan in response!

Before you host a big summer gathering:

  • Replace exterior hoses and repair worn fixtures so that Slip N’ Slide fun doesn’t result in a leaking basement.
  • Call Garvin’s Sewer Service to snake your main line to prevent backups when lots of guests use your bathrooms.
  • Ensure your garbage disposal and dishwasher are working well to avoid backups after festive dinners. If you notice your dishwasher or sink is emptying slowly, call Garvin’s. We specialize in drain cleaning.

Anticipate the expansion

Cold causes pipes to expand, but heat is also an insidious beast. According to plumbing2point0.com, pressure can build up in clogged pipes which can then expand and crack or burst in extreme heat. And we know it gets hot here. The mercury rose to a record-busting 101 degrees Fahrenheit on June 15!

What are some signs that your pipes might already be in trouble?

  • Musty odors or foul smells,
  • Water marks on drywall or ceilings
  • Dripping or other unusual noises in your walls
  • Water that doesn’t smell right or is a weird color
  • Water pressure that goes up and down

If you have any of these issues, don’t ignore them. Call a professional to take a look.

Garvin’s plumbing contractors of Englewood and Denver can help you properly maintain your pipes to prevent leaks and bursting. Consult with us to tailor a plumbing maintenance schedule to safeguard your “Home-Sweet-Home.” Take care of your plumbing year-round to remove the worry that comes with seasonal temperature fluctuations.

Ask for help

We are grateful to have a loyal following. Recent customers say Garvin’s does “a great job for a very good price” and that our service people are “knowledgeable, polite, patient, kind and helpful.” We would love to get to know you and your plumbing. Contact us 24/7 for help with your routine and seasonal plumbing maintenance.