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Putting Pumpkin Parts Down The Drain Will Have You Calling an Emergency Plumber

dreamstime_xxl_5994336We’ve written on this subject before, but now that we’re a month out from Halloween we figured it would be a good idea to revisit it. As you local plumber, we consider it a public service to help you take care of your drains and your sewer system. If we didn’t revisit this topic, there’s no doubt that some of you would have to call an emergency plumber.

So, what is this foul destroyer of pipes and garbage disposals that only arises when the moon looms high over the misty graveyard?

Pumpkins.

That’s right, pumpkins. That staple of Halloween and Thanksgiving that seems so innocent but can wreak havoc on both your sinks and garbage disposals. Let’s take a look at this fall fiend.

Protect Your Sink Pipes

You cut open the top of your pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern. You reach in and, if you’re like most people, kind of enjoy / are kind of grossed out by the slimy gooeyness of the pumpkin innards. So you pull them out and drop them onto the newspapers you’ve laid down to protect your table. They’re all so slick and drippy; they’re sure to just slide right down the sink, especially if you remove the seeds first, right?

Garvin 4Wrong! When they harden, pumpkin guts are some of the strongest naturals adhesives you’ll ever find in your kitchen. You’ll find that any part of the table not covered during the jack-o-lantern carving will have a hard-to-remove coating the next morning. Plates, knives, and anything else you used will be covered in hard pumpkin guts. It’s nature’s glue, and if you put a measurable amount down your sink it’s going to harden in the pipes and you’re going to have to call an emergency plumber before you know it.

Spare Your Garbage Disposal

When the pumpkin parts harden in your sink, you’ll probably need drain cleaning. But when they harden in the garbage disposal, you might just need a new one. Not only do you now have this natural glue in your disposal, but the stringy nature of the pumpkin guts also wraps around your disposal blades and can damage them. Think about it: when you’re pulling those guts out of the pumpkin it can be impossible to grab hold and pull them from the pumpkin wall, and once they’re out those strands are incredibly difficult to break. The same thing is happening in your disposal.

Seeds also become a problem for garbage disposals. While you might enjoy cooked seeds, try one straight out of the pumpkin and you’ll quickly realize that they’re too tough to chew. Your garbage disposal will have the same problem.

So What Are You Supposed to Do With All The Innards?

Here’s the good thing: everything you take out of a pumpkin is usable. The most obvious use is to cook the pumpkin seeds. They’re easy to make, tasty, and filled with vitamins and minerals. While many people will simply compost the rest of the guts, it’s much cooler to eat them, cook with them, and make them into soap and other useful household items. Here are 28 great uses for those pumpkin guts.

Pumpkins are great fun during Halloween and incredibly tasty around Thanksgiving. Just make sure you’re using the pumpkin to its full potential and not sending anything down the drain. If you do, you’ll be calling your local plumber to bring the sewer snake. Avoid that and you can have a great fall!

Why Preventive Drain Cleaning Can Prevent Costly Sewer Repair

 

dreamstime_xxl_48808347On our Preventive Sewer Cleaning page, we mention how we’re like dentists. Strange analogy, considering the business we’re in. Maybe, in fact, we’re more like doctors…wanting your system to stay healthy so that you can keep the stuff that makes you sick away from you.

Let’s take a look at that and see if it holds up…

We’d rather see you once a year than every week: What would happen if a general practitioner had all of his patients sick all the time. People would think that that doctor was doing something wrong.

Now imagine that people see our truck outside of your home every week. They’ll start to think that we’re unable to fix the problem, which reflects very poorly on us. We’ll make sure to get the job done right the first time!

Clean out your system: What does a doctor want you to do? Exercise. Exercise is like preventive maintenance for you body, because it keeps the blood pumping and cleans out your arteries…just as keeping the roots and debris from your sewer system helps keep it healthy.

Keep the bad stuff away: Doctors are always telling you to not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with dirty hands, especially during cold and flu season. What they’re basically telling you is “keep the bad stuff away from you.” By keeping your sewer line clean, we’re also keeping your pathogens down the drain where they belong, instead of bubbling up in your sink.

We want to keep your home healthy, and one of the easiest ways to do that is with our preventive maintenance program. Give Garvin’s a call today to get started!

#CleanSewers #CleanDrains

 

 

The Stuff You Sent Down The Drain Five Years Ago Might Still Be There…So Call The Right Sewer Service!

 

drain_cta_revWhenever we show up at a home, it’s not often that people will admit to the stuff that they flush. Maybe you were cleaning the toilet with a paper towel, and the paper towel got so disgusting that it was just easier to flush than to toss it in the trash can. Or perhaps it was just easier to rinse the grease off the pan and down the drain instead of wiping it off first.

And in some ways we understand. After all, the paper towel disappeared. The grease was no longer on your pan, and both the toilet and the sink are still working fine.

The thing is, problems compound. If that paper towel was the only paper towel you ever flushed, you wouldn’t have a problem. But on its way out to the city sewer line, it might have gotten stopped by a big glob of grease that solidified when cool water hit it. This catalyst of filth just keep collecting more and more debris…the hair from your shower, the food from your garbage disposal, the other things you send down your drains that you simply don’t want hanging around.

When you have a huge sewer blockage, we can send down the sewer scope and find the clog. After all this time we might not be able to identify it, but it’s often something that shouldn’t have gone down the drain in the first place. And we can push it along with our rooter service so it won’t cause you any problems.

So before you have a devastating blockage, take advantage of our preventive sewer service program. We’ll get you a drain cleaning and sewer cleaning that will help prevent catastrophic backups. Give us a call to schedule one today!

 

 

Why you should add drain and sewer cleaning to your spring home checklist

drain_cta_revMay is the time of year in Denver when we can finally begin to open windows and begin our spring cleaning.

This year, as with last year, we did need to wait until mid-May as April brought May snow rather than flowers. Nonetheless, we cross our fingers that snow is complete and begin preparing our homes for spring. Here are some tips for every area of your home to help usher in the next season.

 

1. Sprinklers and hoses

Now is the time people begin to turn on sprinklers and hoses. This can sometimes have bad results as the cold of another Denver winter may have caused outdoor spigots to crack or sprinkler heads to have been broken off. Turn on your water slowly and check the yard, basement and walls on the opposite side of the spigots for any water that shouldn’t be there.

2. Gutters and downspouts

Check your gutters and downspouts for blockages of leaves and other tree debris. With rain likely, it is a good idea to make sure your downspouts are in good working order, including making sure the water will transport away from the house and foundation.

3. Grading and landscaping

Check your home for grading issues. Make a list of the items you may need to address such as plants, mulch, walkways and more. What does your home need now to help with getting through the summer with a nice exterior finish not damaged by water?

4. Pests

Check your home for cracks that can be or become homes for pests. Awnings, loose roof tiles, broken grating or siding- these are all areas that can become problematic. Are there areas of your home that need repair before a pest can take up residence?

5. Drain and sewer cleaning

Spring is the time when roots from trees in your or your neighbor’s yard can begin to penetrate your sewer line. This is a good time of year to consider and drain and sewer cleaning service. My being proactive, you can prevent costly sewer backups in your home before they start, due to roots in the line.

6. Other Exterior needs

Aesthetics are another thing to consider adding to your spring checklist. Does the home need painting, stucco or siding? New windows, roofing or other cosmetic changes? Sometimes things that appear to be simply aesthetic really do add value to the home as well as require repairs that go beyond just appearance.

 

If you are in the greater Denver area and are looking for a quality drain and sewer cleaning service, Garvin’s Sewer Service would love to earn your business. With over 75 years in the drain and sewer cleaning business, we know our stuff. Call today with questions, for pricing or to learn more: 303- 571- 5114

How bacon grease down the drain can lead to you needing sewer cleaning

What do I do with my bacon grease?

dreamstime_xxl_20858262Drain cleaning service providers typically deal with the same most common clogs:

  1. Grease
  2. Too much slow or non-disintegrating product in the sewer line (such as wipes, tampons, paper towel and more)
  3. Roots

Preventative maintenance can help with all these.

Instead of pouring bacon grease down the kitchen sink drain, consider these other options:

  1. Use an old coffee can, pouring the grease in and not throwing the can away until the can is full and cool.
  2. Reuse a plastic oil container. Do not pour hot grease into a plastic container. You can also use this method for saving oil from fried foods such as fried chicken.
  3. Pour hot bacon grease into a porcelain cup. This is typically a coffee mug. You can store this in your fridge or freezer and use the grease in food preparation in the future.

If you DO pour the bacon grease down the kitchen sink drain, do NOT use a chemical drain product to clear the grease. Chemical drain cleaning products are designed to break down grease that builds up along the side of pipes. They typically will not clear other items that are part of the clog, such as food items.

A professional drain cleaning service can clear the drain in one of two ways. Some companies will use a mini-hydro jet or sewer jetter. These blast hot water through the pipe. Some companies will us a mini-rooter machine. These machines use blades to clear the clog. Either one works just fine, however, some residential homes can experience flooding from improper use of the hydro-jet.

Finally, it is also important to note that grease can also be a build up of soap scum and shampoo, detergent and other residues. Using a sensible about of these products and choosing cleaner products, can help with this problem and reduce your need for a drain cleaning service.

For too much or slowly disintegrating products in the line, the preventative maintenance tip would be to simply limit or stop putting those products down the drain.

For roots in the sewer line, a preventative maintenance cleaning is best in Spring and Fall. The cleaning will clear the roots from the line before you experience a back-up. Most homeowners with sewer line roots get their line serviced with preventative maintenance every 12-18 months, depending on the severity of past root problems and the number of people in the home. (More people = more frequent cleanings).

If you want to avoid calling for a drain cleaning service, you will want to consider options for preventative maintenance. If you have any questions, please call Garvin’s Sewer Service at 303-571-5114, or search their other blogs for more homeowner tips.

The stuff you flush that can lead to the need for sewer service

dreamstime_xxl_10290097“If tampons are flushable, why do they cause a sewer backup?”

Recently I heard from a landlord who said it was part of the lease that tampons would not be flushed down the toilet. Yet after a sewer backup, it was found tampons were the major culprit.

In fact, tampons, wipes, paper towels are the three biggest culprits to cause a need for sewer cleaning besides root growth in sewer lines. Why is that? Each product claims to be flushable.

Flushable means “suitable for disposal by flushing down a toilet” (source: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flushable). Disposable means “an article designed to be thrown away after use” (source: dictionary.reference.com/browse/disposable.

Choosing to dispose of something in the toilet rather than the trashcan is the simple definition of flushable, but that doesn’t mean it is the best or right thing to do.

Anything that can go into a trashcan, should. This includes: food, oils, trash, plastics, cigarette butts, dental floss, diapers, condoms, kitty litter and even paper towels, wipes, facial tissues, tampons and their applicators, and sanitary napkins. In fact, the only things truly flushable are waste and toilet paper.

Preventing a sewer backup is simply a choice to use a trashcan for all disposables and keeping root growth at bay. I let the landlord know that most women don’t think the actual cotton tampon is a problem. They know the applicator should not be flushed, just as they know the sanitary pad shouldn’t, but the idea of putting used tampons into the trash is just not understood. Part of the benefit of the tampon is the disposable and flushable component it offers. The women who do know this are usually homeowners or landlords who have had to front the bill of a sewer backup due to a clog caused by used tampons in the sewer.

My suggestion for homeowners and landlords is that they clearly specify to guests and tenants how “flushable” is defined. For many, it will simply be stating anything that can go in the trash, rather than the toilet, should.

I have been in many bathrooms where a sign is posted reading, “Please do not flush feminine products”. For years, I believed that to mean that I should not flush tampon applicators or sanitary pads. I did not think used tampons were considered a feminine product because it clearly said it was flushable and I wondered how sanitary it would be to put it in the trash instead.

For a teen daughter or a tenant, consider having them read “Can you flush tampons?” as an additional source of information from www.theperiodblog.com

Make sure you are clear in order to prevent a backup requiring professional sewer service. Here is a clear (and funny sign) I found online:

For more homeowner tips, follow PlumbingGirl on Facebook!

Stories from the Trade Show: Drain Cleaning 101

They say truth is stranger than fiction…
dreamstime_xxl_15298535A man approaches me at a recent trade show and asks, “Do you guys sell plungers for low flush toilets?”

“No,” I reply, “But any hardware store sells them.”

“I have one and it’s not working because my,” he pauses, thinks, then continues with finger quotes, “my ‘deposits’ are as large as the exit pipe. I eat a lot of roughage and am having to flush several times to move it through. I’m certain I am NOT saving any water. After I flush several times, I wipe then flush that. The rubber on my plunger is wearing out.”

Remembering my training in raising teenagers and thus having no reaction to the absurd, I respond, “There is an item called an ‘auger’. It is metal and is a 4ft. long cable that can go into a smaller opening and clear the clog. It might avoid your need for professional drain cleaning.”

He smiles, thanks me, and walks away.

Good luck, sir. Good luck.

 

Bathrooms (and drain cleaning) of the Future

When I was a kid, I loved the Jetsons.

I really did think when I was an adult, the world would be like that. Although, I couldn’t do the math to figure out that in 2062, the time of the show, I would be 86 years old. That’s a long time to wait for a servant robot.

Well, we almost are using TV Screen Phones (with FaceTime, Skype and the like). But we don’t have flying cars and I haven’t figured out how to get my dog to walk on a treadmill, or have a machine dress me, apply my make-up AND cook my breakfast all in less than 10 seconds.

Nonetheless, we are living in a time where inventions are flowing like waterfalls on chiseled cliffs. So what will bathrooms of the future look like? And how will they affect sewer cleaners like us. Will bathrooms all have bidets?

dreamstime_9956210

After all, bidets do cut down on toilet paper use significantly.

 

Will they all be self-cleaning?

dreamstime_xxl_24935584

 

Maybe every drain will have a sink disposal, like Kramer did when he had a disposal in his shower on Seinfeld?

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No matter what, we look forward to seeing the solutions (and problems) that arise concerning sewer cleaning. After all, Garvin’s has been at this for 75 years, and we’re sure to see some changes in the next 75!

Toy in the Toilet might mean drain cleaning

dreamstime_xxl_22824764As a mom, we have to deal with a lot of stuff.

Drama when kids fight over a toy.

Drama as our child goes to their first day of school.

Drama as our kid has their first serious sickness or injury.

Drama as our children complain about the food they are served.

Kids don’t mean to be drama queens. But they are. And as moms, we manage it- either by being drama queens ourselves, having our own tantrums, having a glass of wine after dinner, taking a hot bath, or going out on a date night with friends or a partner. (Or the half million other strategies we have found to manage all that is Parenting.)

My favorite thing about parenting is that we are all doing our best. We don’t ever wake up in the morning and say, “Today, I’m going to be a terrible parent.” We all do our best.

And, our kids help us mature in “our best efforts” by teaching us, in their very special way, how to manage drama.

What do you do when your child flushes a toy?

1. First, accept that you are being given an opportunity to manage some drama. Drama Management 201.

2. Second, a plunger usually doesn’t work. Don’t bother.

 

Even if you are able to push the item through, it doesn’t mean it won’t cause a clog. We actually had a customer that required a sewer camera to find out what the problem was and there was a toy car perfectly (or frustratingly) wedged at a bend that caused several back-ups. Which means in some cases you may want to:

 

3. Third, pull the toilet.

Some handy folks can do this themselves, but most people prefer to call a plumber. There are YouTube videos on how to do this, if you want to see what it takes and be adventurous.

 

In all, it is better to retrieve the flushed child’s toy rather than to “push it through”. So, get some towels and get out your rubber gloves, Momma. Or, better yet, delegate this task to someone else.

And then get some child locks for the toilet until they are a little older.

Congratulations, you have met the prerequisite for Drama Management 301. I expect your reports by next Monday. Or next Mother’s Day. Whenever you have time, really.

 

 

 

Tales from the Depths: Interesting Stories and Questions About Drain Cleaning

Stories from the Plumbing Front Lines:

In my years of networking (talking to people) specifically in the world of plumbing, I have gotten some pretty interesting questions and stories.

Here are some of my favorites:

Plumbing Question 1:

Does ROCK SALT kill roots in the sewer line?

 

Roots grow in from the TOP of the pipe through the natural seams in the sewer line? They can also grow in because of a porous clay pipe or through a break. If you pour rock salt in your drain, it will dissolve, just like salt dissolves in a glass of water. It may pool in a high concentration in the pipe. If the roots are big enough to be touching the bottom of the pipe, it is likely that rock salt is not going to solve the problem.

Our suggestions:

  1. Get your sewer line cleaned of roots with a 4” double bladed sewer machine (referred to as Roto-Rooter® or equivalent). This does require a professional in most cases.
  2. For preventative maintenance, use a foaming root killer that will each roots in the entire circumference of the sewer pipe. We recommend RootX® for drain cleaning.

Plumbing Story 1:

I am house sitting and the only one there, and I hear a loud noise all of a sudden and trace it to the bathroom where the cold water is on full blast. I turned the faucet off and called my handyman who found no leaks, no malfunctions, nothing. What’s your opinion as a plumber?

Well, plumbing is not mechanical — it must be turned on or off either manually or with a timer. The only time it doesn’t follow this rule is when there is a leak, when it will run anywhere using the easiest path. Since a faucet knob needs to be manually adjusted to turn on, and it is very unlikely or even practical to have it on a timer, my best suggestion: Hire Ghost Busters!

 Plumbing Story 2:

I was at a County fair and overate, resulting in overuse of the toilet, and it clogged. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t want to call anyone. My plunger didn’t work and just kept making a mess as the water came up and over the toilet. Why didn’t my plunger work?

Gross. Ok, I’m sure we have all had the “Toilet Clog Scare,” so let me address it. Yes, toilet clogs can happen for a variety of reasons, but they all involve something being stuck in the toilet. A good plunger should always be in every bathroom that is being used. A homeowner and building owner or facilities manager, for that matter, may want to consider getting something called an Auger. An Auger is about a 7 foot cable with a handle on the end that you can insert into the toilet. It goes much deeper than the plunger, and unlike the plunger that is using pressure to force the blockage through, you can spin the cable in the line to loosen anything clogging the space.

These can be purchased at the hardware store and are great for people who have frequent toilet clogs. Note here, they don’t work on toys, brushes or cell phones that may have fallen in and clogged the line… for that, you may need a professional as it could include needing to pull the toilet up.

Do you have a question you would like clarified? A plumbing related story to share? Please do!