What Can a Camera Inspection Tell You About Your Sewer?

What Can a Camera Inspection Tell You About Your Sewer?

Plumbers have been around for as long as plumbing has existed, making it one of the oldest professions in the modern world. Despite that, plumbing has a come a long way, especially in the last few years as technological advancements have helped make it easier than ever to detect any issues in hard-to-see locations such as your sewer line. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we sometimes use sewer inspection cameras to locate sewer line problems, but only in certain situations.

If you’ve ever wondered in what contexts we may need to use these special cameras, the following explains how they work and what they can detect.

How Sewer Inspection Cameras Work

The device itself features a box with a screen attached a thin, snakelike hose that can be deposited into an open drain. Inside the hose are small lights and a fiber optic camera similar in size to those found in smartphones, and as the camera at the end of the cable extends down the pipe, images of what the camera sees shows up on the screen in real time. As the plumber threads the cable through the pipes, it observes any potential obstructions or leaks.

What These Cameras Can Show Us

Perhaps most importantly, these cameras have made it possible for us to detect problems that may be located in a sewer line, which is buried underground and often inaccessible for visual inspection from the outside. In a nutshell, these cameras can show our professionals most cracks, root damage, and corrosion, giving us an easy look at what needs to be fixed and how we could best approach fixing it.

For example, the camera could determine that root damage is what’s causing the issue, so we would know how to use the right kinds of tools to correct the issue. If there’s a clog, we know how to flush it out. There’s a good reason we use these so much at our jobs!

What Cameras Can’t Do

While a sewer camera inspection can catch many problems, there are some things it can’t do. With some old cast iron piping, the image can be hard to interpret sometimes, at which point we may have to use other diagnostic methods to figure out what’s going on.

At the end of the day, though, these cameras are very helpful in diagnosing what’s wrong with a sewer line. They help Garvin’s Sewer Service professionals do their job in a way that allows us to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. These types of modern plumbing tools are good for everybody involved, so don’t be surprised if you see one of our technicians using a sewer camera the next time you call them to your house to correct a sewer line issue.

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

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

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

#1 Sewage Backups or Blockages

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

#2 Slow Drain

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

#3 Unpleasant Odors

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

#4 Standing Water in Your Lawn

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

#5 Extra Green Grass

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

#6 Septic Pooling

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

When It’s Time to Contact a Professional

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

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake | Garvin's Sewer Service

How to Clear a Basement Drain Without a Snake

For as long as there has been modern plumbing, pipes and drains have gotten clogged, and it never stops being frustrating for the people and/or families dealing with the problem. Floor drains—especially those located in basements—are especially susceptible to blockages since all the other water and waste from the house is carried downward by gravity to septic tanks or public sewers. Knowing that, we see a lot of floor drain clogs here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, and while we would love to help those in need with these types of problems, there are a few approaches homeowners can try before contacting an emergency drain cleaning service.

The Causes of Floor Drain Clogs

Before attempting to unclog a floor drain on your own, it’s worth knowing why these clogs happen in the first place. The most common issue occurs when sediment or waste accumulates in the pipes over time and creates a clog large enough to slow down the flow of the water. Other possible causes include broken or damaged pipes, water flow issues, or even pipes that were installed incorrectly in the first place. Sometimes, torrential storms can leave dirt and other sediment in the system that also can cause problems.

Whatever the cause, it’s a headache that can lead to bigger problems if left unattended.

How to Unclog a Floor Drain

While using a plumbing snake is usually the easiest way to tackle this (and again, Garvin’s Sewer Service is happy to provide this service), there are a few other things homeowners can try.

Clean the Trap

The first step in getting your floor drain to work as it was intended is to clean out the trap. To do this, locate the backflow preventer in your basement, remove its cap, then get a chisel and drive it around the notches in the retaining ring. Loosen the ring and the backflow ball, and then use a shop vac to suck out all the nasty sediment in the trap, which likely is part of what’s causing the problem.

After cleaning the trap, remove the backflow preventer’s cleanout plug and connect strong wire or cable to a power drill so you can spin it into the pipe opening. This should clear the clog and get your water flowing again.

Try Baking Soda and Vinegar

Sometimes, baking soda and vinegar can unclog a drain if the blockage isn’t especially stubborn. Start by pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain, followed by ½ cup baking soda. Let that sit a few minutes, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of very hot water on top of the baking soda. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then flush it one last time with another pot of boiling water.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

If that doesn’t work, it might be time to call someone here at Garvin’s Sewer Service to handle the clog for you. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners because they send toxic material into the sewers, and these chemicals can even corrode older plumbing systems. If chemicals are necessary, allow professionals to be the ones who use them.

When It’s Time to Call a Professional

If you have a basement drain blockage that won’t unclog, never hesitate to call Garvin’s Sewer Service. If you can’t do it safely yourself, we will get your basement drain unclogged and functioning properly again in no time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2 The Problem Might Be Bigger Than You Think

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

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

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

#4 DIY Is a Big Time Investment

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

#5 Professional Techniques & Equipment Yield Professional Results

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

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

How to Know When You Need a Sewer Drain Cleaning

Is your sewer line backing up? It is never pleasant, especially when you don’t know what to do or who to call to help. For many homeowners, it seems like it happens at the most inconvenient times (not that there is ever a good time for a sewer back-up). Sometimes, you can anticipate one coming or can prevent it, and other times, it becomes and emergency that requires sewer drain cleaning.

A sewer line back-up is caused by water and waste coming back into the home, usually through a floor drain in the basement or lowest level bathroom toilet or shower. The sewage isn’t able to exit to the city sewer main because there is a blockage in the sewer line that runs from your house to it, so, it comes back into your home. It is dirty and unpleasant and can cause significant damage to your property.

This is why it’s important to know when you need a sewer line cleaning and what to do about it.

Warning Signs

There are times your sewer line may back up without warning. This is usually because the line has been slowly clogging over time and it simply can’t handle any more. Other times, you may experience gurgling in the toilet, see water or waste residue near a floor drain, or hear funning sounds coming from drain lines when the washing machine is being ran.

Washing machines dump a lot of water down the drains quickly, so if you hear sounds in the drains when it runs, or you see water coming up through a drain, it is likely there is a sewer line clog that is causing it. Turn off your washer and call a specialist for a sewer drain cleaning before you have water and waste coming back into your home.

How to Prevent a Sewer Back Up

One of the most common causes of a sewer back up is the accumulation of tree roots in the sewer line. While tree roots are fine enough to infiltrate sewer pipe joints, when they grow uncontrolled, they can completely close the line. They can also act like a strainer, allowing water to pass through their growth while catching paper, feminine products, and other materials, forming an even greater clog.

To prevent this from happening, some home and/or business owners opt for a regular preventive maintenance sewer cleaning. The frequency of these cleaning will be dependent on how quickly roots impact the line. For businesses, this could mean cleanings could be as often as monthly or as infrequently as twice a year. For homeowners, you could do a cleaning every 6 months, to every other year.

Reducing Damage

If you are noticing signs of an imminent sewer back up, call to get a preventative maintenance sewer drain cleaning done. A reputable company will typically offer a work guarantee that the line won’t back up for a certain amount of time when they’ve cleared it of tree roots.

When you have an active sewer line back-up, you can prevent further damage by not using your plumbing or waste systems. This means not using your sinks, showers, toilets, washing machine or dish washer until the line has been cleared. Failure to do so will cause the additional waste to also back up.

When (and Who) to Call

Because you are not able to run water or use the facilities during a sewer line back up, it is important to call an emergency plumber who can come 24/7/365 to clean your line. Sewer drain cleaning specialists understand the importance of getting your line cleared and will come night, day, weekend or holiday to make sure you are taken care of.

Find a reputable drain cleaning company who doesn’t charge extra for afterhours service, who offers a service guarantee and is well rated with the BBB.

Garvin’s Sewer Service has been providing sewer drain cleaning services for over 75 years in Denver and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today at 303-571-5114 if you have a sewer line back-up or are looking to prevent the inconvenience of one. An employee answers the phone and can be dispatched to you 24/7/365 with NO overtime charges ever.

Emergency Sewer Cleaning vs. Preventative Sewer Cleaning

We have several customers tell us that their sewer only backs-up on major holidays. Or nights. Or weekends. While we understand they truly mean that it never happens when it’s convenient (not that it ever is wanted or easy), sewer back-ups happen 24/7/365. That is one of the reasons why Garvin’s is available all day every day without extra charges for “inconvenient” times for emergency sewer cleaning. It is also the reason why we encourage people to conduct an annual preventative sewer cleaning.

Don’t all sewer back-ups require emergency sewer cleaning?

Emergency sewer cleaning is absolutely the name of our game. Call us anytime and we have a technician out to you in a matter of hours. We know how important it is to get your sewer back in working order as soon as possible. Not being able to flush a toilet, run the washing machine, faucets or sinks can be extremely frustrating, and also unsanitary.

Allowing waste water to sit for long periods of time can cause damage that requires a restoration company to mitigate the damages. With homeowner’s insurance not covering sewer cleaning or a main line back-up, the responsibility is on you to handle it quickly, professionally, and cost-effectively.

Emergencies can happen when too much toilet paper is used, or when the wrong toilet paper is used over time and doesn’t break down in the line. Low flush toilets and appliances can fail to put waste through the line properly, leading to sewer back-ups. Lines that become offset or broken, can also create an emergency, as can construction or other types of debris that causes blockages that enter the line.

When can preventative sewer cleaning be done?

Preventative sewer cleaning isn’t a guarantee that a sewer back-ups won’t happen, but they reduce the chances. At Garvin’s we stand behind our work and offer up to 90 day guarantees that the line we clear won’t back up. Preventative maintenance makes sure the line is clear of debris. This debris, waste, and/or root growth can catch other debris, causing it to accumulate and not let water to pass, thus causing sewer back-ups.

Preventative mainline cleaning can be done as often as you want at a time that is convenient to your schedule. Most preventative sewer cleaning is done on an annual basis, or per the recommendation of your service technician once they determine the amount of root growth in the line. They may also recommend products that can be used or shouldn’t be used in order to keep the line clear until your next service.

Whether you are needing emergency sewer cleaning or would like to schedule preventative service, Garvin’s is here to answer your questions and your calls 24/7/365. Give us a call today at 303-571-5114.