Preventive Sewer Cleaning Stops Your House From Becoming A Biohazard Zone

In the last blog we talked about the different types of water in your house: the whitewater coming in, the blackwater goes out, and the graywater that some buildings can divert in order to water plants.

What’s going out of your house and into the sewer system right now is called blackwater. That’s water than has fecal contamination, essentially any water that comes out of your toilet. Why the big deal about fecal contamination? Well, beyond simply being gross and smelly, feces is one of the easiest ways for pathogens (anything that makes your sick) travel from human to human.

Now imagine that you haven’t invested in a little preventive sewer cleaning from Garvin’s sewer service. If you haven’t had rooter service in a while, or if you’ve got a grease monster growing in your sewer pipe at the wrong place as to have your sewer pipes back up.

That’s bad. Really bad.


You lose all your stuff because of the water: What’s getting wet when your sewer backs up? Paperwork, boxes of Christmas ornaments, luggage, and, if you have a basement, lots and lots of carpets. Even if it weren’t a biohazard, you’d have to get rid of it. Wait, what’s that about a biohazard?

Biohazard: As we mentioned above, anything that comes up from your sewer pipes is blackwater, so most anything it touches is going to have to be destroyed. That includes your carpet (and it’s pad), that luggage we mentioned above, the artificial Christmas tree box (and the artificial Christmas tree within!) Just about everything that got we is going to have to get tossed. You might not even know that you’re missing something for six months until it’s tax time and you realize that you could have saved those papers with a little preventive sewer cleaning.

You’ll never look at your sinks and toilets the same way again: If you see sewage coming up through your toilets, sinks, or showers, you’re never going to look at them the same way again. You might sterilize them with bleach again and again, but you just won’t be able to get the image of them sitting filthy out of your head. You might be paying for new sinks out of your own pocket.

Once you have a sewer back up, you’ll wish that you’d taken the initiative and given Garvin’s Sewer Service a call for some preventive sewer cleaning. Ready to do whatever it takes and protect the way you live? Contact Garvin’s today!




The Different Types of Water Coming Into And Leaving Your Home


We deal with water every day, and our goal is to always make sure that the water gets to where it’s supposed to be. If we’re working on plumbing, we make sure that the water in your pipes reaches your sink instead of flowing onto your floor, and that your wastewater heads out of your house when you need sewer cleaning.

Whitewater: White water is what’s coming out of your freshwater pipes (while it’s technically clear, most water coming from your sink comes out with lots of air mixed in, making it appear white in many circumstances. We’re lucky here in the Denver area to have very good water, with most towns being free from violations. It helps that we’re some of the first to use the water after it comes off the mountains.

Blackwater: Blackwater is any water that has a measurable amount of fecal contamination. This is any sewer water that is connected to pipes that come from toilets. The water coming from your house is blackwater because all of your wastewater is gathered by a single sewer pipe in order to be transferred to the public sewer system. About 10-20 perfect of wastewater is blackwater.

Graywater: So what’s halfway between whitewater and blackwater? You guessed it! Graywater is wastewater from a home or business that doesn’t contain anything the goes down the toilets. Since this is a significant amount of water when you consider all of the sources of water from a house — sinks, showers, washers, and washing machines — graywater is the future of water usage. Graywater can be minimally treated (within a home or business) and then be used to water plants and gardens. This is also helpful because it takes pressure off of local water treatment plants.

Houses and buildings can be converted to handle graywater. However, it requires a considerable change in your habits, as you’ll need to switch to different types of soap for your dishes and clothes, as well as the type of hand and body soap that goes down your sinks.

We all used dozens of gallons of water every day, so it’s good to know exactly what’s going on with it in your house. And when your blackwater won’t go down, contact Garvin’s Sewer Service for the best sewer cleaning in the city.



“Just Because It Goes Down The Drain…” More Stuff People Flush That Leads To Sewer Drain Cleaning


Sewer drain cleaning can be avoided if you don't flush bandages.

No…no…no…no…no…and no on the scissors.

It never seems to end, does it, the long list of stuff you shouldn’t be sending down your toilet. But in some ways, it makes sense. Toilets are there for taking a few select “items” away from your home. It’s not a magic trash can into which you can put anything and it will disappear.

We never have to tell people “keep your chainsaws out of the toilet” or “be sure to never flush your window blinds.” But some things just keep getting found in there when we do sewer drain cleaning that it bears repeating again and again that you really shouldn’t flush.

Cotton Products: What, are people just sick of their cotton t-shirts and want to get rid of them as quickly as possible? Well, no, that’s not usually the cotton we’re talking about. We mean more along the line of cotton balls (very common in bathrooms because of makeup removal) and cotton swabs. Cotton doesn’t break down in your pipes (which should be obvious if you’ve ever worn it as clothing) and it easily gets snared by any clogs or tree roots that might be in your sewer drain pipes.

Underwear: What was that we said about cotton products? This happens much more often than anyone is willing to admit. Something embarrassing happens to the underwear and someone tries to flush it. Or someone is changing clothes, their underwear falls into the toilet, and they just don’t have the stomach to fish them out. Whatever happens, please don’t flush it.

Dental Floss: Why not? After all, it’s just a little string that heads straight down the toilet with every flush. Well, much like the cotton products, floss is specifically designed to not break, and if it gets caught in your pipes on the way out to the municipal system it’s just going to weave its way into the tree roots and create worse clogs. That’s when you’ll need rooter service.

Condoms: Growing up, most of us heard that you shouldn’t flush condoms, because most toilets don’t flush in a way that takes them down, and then it just sits there. That’s not the only reason; these things are specifically designed with elasticity and strength in mind, and they’re one of the easier things to get caught in a forming clogs deep in the sewer lines.

Band-Aids: We get it, you want to get that gross thing out of your house as quickly as possible. But they’re just like cotton products and dental floss…they don’t dissolve and they easily get attached to grease and preexisting clogs. Is it really worth risking the need for sewer cleaning just to say goodbye to your band-aid that much that sooner?

Kitty Litter: Here’s one of those things that might be labeled flushable, but trust us, it’s just a ploy to sell you less litter for more money, and it’s going to cost you even more when you need sewer drain cleaning when it clogs up your pipes.

Remember, just because it flushes doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. In fact, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s sewer lines (that’s the ways the old adage goes, right?) Avoid flushing all of those items and you shouldn’t need sewer cleaning any time soon. But when you do, call Garvin’s!




Merry Christmas! Watch Out For These Things That Can Go Wrong With Your Sewer Drain During The Holidays

Sewer drains need special attention during the holidays.

Shhhhh…Don’t tell anyone what I did to the toilet.

The holidays are here, and with it come the guests! Unfortunately, that means that your sewer lines might be under more duress than usual. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you survive the holidays without having to call for emergency sewer cleaning service.

When You’re Cleaning The House: If you’re having people over, the amount of time you spend cleaning will probably dwarf the amount of time they’re there. This, of course, means taking time to clean the toilets, and when you do so with antibacterial wipes or paper towels there’s always the temptation to just flush them to get those disgusting things out of your house. You’re probably also trying to avoid the chemical smell from lingering in your bathroom’s trash can. But imagine how much worse it will be if they get stuck in your sewer line and come back up later. Do yourself a favor and don’t flush them. Just have a grocery bag nearby; it’s just as easy to toss your paper towels into the grocery bag as it is to put them in the toilet. When you’re done, just toss the bag in the trash.

The Constant Use: If you have a typical family of four, your sewer system is accustomed to a certain amount of use. If you’re not having problems right now, there’s a good chance that there’s an equilibrium between what it can handle and what you throw at it. But when you have a large number of guests over, you could be tasking it beyond its limits. This constant use of the sinks and toilets could finally send it over the edge. That’s why it’s a good idea to have some preventive sewer cleaning and drain service before everyone arrives.

The Meal Cleanup: A good guest will at least offer to help clean up (sure, they don’t always expect you’ll take them up on it, but at least they offered!) If you say yes, maybe they’ll help with the dishes. Watch them closely!

We know we sound like a broken record, but there are two main reasons people need sewer cleaning: roots and grease. And unless you’re serving an inordinate amount of ginger, it’s the grease that they’ll absentmindedly send down the drain! Make sure they’re not sending any grease down your sinks.

The Guest’s Habits: If you’re having people over for a single meal, there’s only a certain amount of damage they can do (which is still a lot). But if they’re staying the night, that expands exponentially. Is Aunt Martha accustomed to just washing her dental floss down the drain? Did Uncle Frank choose this weekend away as the perfect time for his once-a-year back shaving in your shower? Is your nephew determined to find out just how much toilet paper your system can handle? It’s behind closed doors, and you can’t watch your guests every minute. If your drains have been running slow, the best thing to do is own up to it and warn people that your sewer lines are taxed. Better to be a little embarrassed than to be a lot embarassed and having to mop up your guest bathroom floor.

What’s the best way to avoid these problems in the first place? Well, preventive maintenance can certainly get you ready for all of those guest coming. If slow drains throughout the house make you suspect that you could use some sewer cleaning, give us a call for rooter service. We’ll clean out all of your drains and all of your sewer lines so that you’re completely ready for whatever the guests throw at them. Schedule your drain cleaning with Garvin’s sewer service today!




Ways Technology Has Changed Rooter Service and Drain Cleaning


How rooter service has changed over the decades.When you think about the changing face of technology, your first thought is probably about cell phone, computers, or the way that more and more of your home appliances are getting smarter and smarter (making us feel dumber and dumber!)

But in our 75 years at Garvin’s Sewer Service, things have really changed technologically. While rooter service has been a tried and true method of sewer and drain cleaning for decades, there are some aspects of it that have really kept up with the times.

The blades: Rooter blades were always sharp, but over the years improvements in metallurgy and the creation of new alloys has created blades that are harder than ever. This means that they not only stay sharper longer, but they are also able to cut through roots that much more easily.

Plug in rooters: There have always been powerful rooters, but the most powerful were always truck-based or gasoline-powered. Technology has allowed rooters to be more efficient; so efficient that plug-in versions can be smaller and easier to transport while still packing the same punch.

Sewer Jetters: Perhaps the biggest leap forward for the toughest clogs has been the sewer jetter. While it still uses the same type of coiled hose to power through clogs, the sewer jetter added pressurized water to the mix. Once the hose powers through the clog, it can spray backwards and attack the clog from the rear (spraying forward with the amount of force needed would send it backward in the pipe; alternately, spraying backward while the hose is taut allows it to stay in one place and pound the clog and roots). Sewer jetters are great, but they require a lot of training because you’re adding the water component that complicates the issue. There’s also the concern with…

Safety: Whirling blades, water under such pressure that it can cut skin, and bacterial pathogens: all in a day’s work! Training with the equipment is the first step to being safe, and we are constantly learning new techniques on new machines. We’re also more and more aware of airborne illnesses and the dangers associated with disease-laden water.

The equipment itself is also more safe than it was even 20 years ago. There are fewer dangers to fingers, and auto shutoffs can prevent flying blades in the worst circumstances when they exit the pipes. Modern cleaners have also gotten much better at disinfecting the equipment after use.

Sewer Cameras: In the public eye, the most obvious change in the sewer game has been the sewer camera, aka the sewer scope. Advances in digital technology, LED lighting, flat screen televisions, miniature cameras, and the ability to work in dark environments have all lead to the capability to find out exactly what’s going on in your sewer pipe. This allows us to get a look to find out if you’ve suffered a catastrophic break in your sewer pipe or if there’s something else going on.

Technology changes every job, and sewer drain cleaning certainly isn’t exempt. When you want us to bring the best of the best to tackle your clog, give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call!



The Advantages of Having Women At The Helm Of Your Sewer Cleaning


Women make great sewer cleaner leaders!As you might know from the big banner at the front of our site, Garvin’s just celebrated its 75th year in business, all of them serving Denver and the surrounding area. Russell P. Garvin started it as Denver’s first rooter service back in 1940, and passed it on to his great-nephew Kenneth Aston in 2002.

So, Garvin’s has already beat the odds…we were the first, we’re still here when so many others have come and gone, and we’ve managed to stay a family company.

Garvin’s has bucked the trend again by passing the day-to-day dealings of our business to three women, the daughters of Kenneth Aston. This makes Garvin’s a third-generation family business. While some might be cynical and say that maybe “keeping the business in the family” trumps “doing what’s best for the business,” we’re happy to say that we didn’t have to make the choice…putting women in charge turned out to the best thing on both fronts!

There’s no doubt that plumbing and sewer cleaning has always been a man’s world. But having women in charge has perfectly coincided with where the world of sewer cleaning needs to go. So why has putting women in charge been such a positive aspect of Garvin’s continued growth?

They know the workings: First of all, let’s talk about the idea of keeping the business in the family. If you grow up and your father (Kenneth) is running a sewer drain cleaning company, you’re going to grow up knowing the business. You’re going to hear stories about the right way to treat customers, the best way to run a business, and what the employees did to get accolades. You’ll also be taking part in the community service projects that Garvin’s participates in around Denver. You hear about the best equipment to use for certain jobs, and about the advances in sewer cleaning technology. When you grow up around it, you can’t help but find yourself immersed in the company.

Customer service: Sure it’s a stereotype, but on the whole women seem to be able to keep their heads about them a little better when dealing with a difficult customer. We might be faking our calm attitude when a customer calls in and yells at us, but we’re less likely to yell back (at first, anyway!)

Your home: Again, we’re diving into stereotypes a little here, but bear with us. Sometimes men tend to be a bit messy at home, not understanding that some people like to keep things in better order. Having women in charge at Garvin’s allows us to connect with the customer’s interest in keeping their home clean, so we’re sure to drive the point home to our service techs on the importance of respecting the cleanliness of a customer’s home. That’s why we have disposable foot coverings at the ready if you should request that we wear them.

The Truth About Flushing: Most men have a hard time with the word “tampon.” Women much less so, and that’s good when we have a blog called “What Flushable Things You Shouldn’t Flush.” We’re going to be upfront about it, and encourage our technicians to do the same.

Having women in charge of a sewer cleaning company is forward-thinking, but it really makes sense. Have any questions? (like “who’s Plumber Girl?”) Check out the Facebook page, or call us here.




It’s A Trap! The Importance Of Grease Traps In Commercial Drain Cleaning



Burgers and fries can cause a lot of sewer drain cleaning

If you run a restaurant, you know just what grease can do to your sewer system. If your grease traps aren’t properly cleaned, fats, oils and greases (FOGs) can wreak havoc in your pipes and cause clogs like you wouldn’t believe.

Grease traps are a requirement for all restaurants, whether you’re a fast food joint swimming in hamburger grease and fry oil or a vegetarian restaurant whose biggest concern is pea butter.. Grease traps are installed by plumbers, and with any luck they installed the correct size so that your grease traps don’t fill up too often. Plumbers install the grease traps, but it’s important to remember that a restaurant is legally required to install and maintain them

Point-Of-Use Grease Traps: It’s not uncommon to find grease traps directly under sinks in a commercial kitchen. These grease traps are the simplest in form, but make an excellent first line of defense, removing between 85-90% of FOGs and food solids. Keeping these cleaned out will prevent them from filling up completely and preventing your water from heading out.

Gravity Interceptors: This type of grease trap is usually located outside and underground, and typically holds between 500 and 2000 gallons. This is the type that has a manhole covered lid or trapdoor that allows the grease to be removed and the grease trap cleaned. Be sure to give Garvin’s a call so that a regular schedule of grease removal can be set up…otherwise you might forget and suddenly the efficiency of your trap goes down exponentially, causing all sort of problems.

Where Does It Go?: Most grease, called brown grease, just ends up in a landfill. That’s because rotting grease becomes rancid and becomes increasingly more difficult to recycle the longer it’s been in a grease trap.

Grease can be a big problem in the restaurant business, so it’s a good thing that Garvin’s Sewer Service is around! We’re here to thoroughly clean out your grease traps so that your restaurant can keep running with minimal interruption.




Sewer Drain Cleaning Differences In A Cold Climate


Cold yet? Here in the middle of December in Denver it can get pretty bad, and it’s unlikely we’re in the middle of the worst of it…January and February are usually even colder.

Because we live in a part of the country that has seasons, it got us thinking about how these seasons affects the way we do our job, and how it affects our business.

The Cold Sewer Pipe: While grease in cold pipes isn’t going to go rancid as quickly, any grease that goes down the drain is going to cool faster in winter, which is going to cause it to glob up and start collecting other stuff.

Cold Fresh Water Pipes: Frozen pipes — those that break when someone turns the thermostat down too low and goes away for a week — are certainly one of the most common water mishaps that occur. The key is to turn your thermostat down so that you save money, but not so low that your pipes freeze. Unfortunately there’s not a magic thermostat number, as everyone’s pipes are in different locations and insulated to different degrees.

Pipes underground won’t freeze: Here’s the good thing about pipes…if they’re far enough underground, they don’t freeze. This is true of both freshwater and sewer pipes. That’s because the ground keeps a constant temperature of about 50-55 degrees fahrenheit (This is the same principle that allows geothermal heat pumps to work.) So these pipes aren’t really causing us additional problems in winter.

As it turns out, it’s not so much the weather that changes things during the winter…it’s the holidays! People are deep frying turkeys, making gravy, and taxing their plumbing systems with tons of holiday guests. When this happens, it can certainly lead to an uptick in our business.

No matter what time of year it is, be sure to give Garvin’s a call at the first sign of trouble: 303-848-3815.

Watching Out For The Environment: Rooter Service Is The Way To Go


Rooter service beats chemicals every time.We’ve talked many times about the importance of keeping chemical drain cleaners out of your drain. It’s simply bad on so many levels. It can eat at your pipes, it offers only a short-term fix, and you’re bringing poisons into your home that don’t need to be there.

But if you’re concerned about the environment, as we all should be, using a mechanical rooter service is the way to for one simple reason: it keeps those poisons out of the environment.

Avoid the Chemicals: There are two basic types of chemical drain cleaners: alkaline and acidic

Alkaline: Sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrate, sodium stearate, aluminum…all of these are found in common household drain cleaners. Sodium hydroxide is used to dissolve organic tissue, and sodium nitrate has been found to increase deaths from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Do you want any more of this in your house or your water supply?

Acidic: Think the alkaline sounds bad? Sulfuric acid is the main ingredient in acidic drain cleaners, and according to the manufacturer: “potential hazards include violent reaction with water and the production of explosive hydrogen vapors upon contact with most metals; chronic (delayed) and acute (immediate) health hazards if inhaled, ingested, or contacted, including severe eye, flesh and skin burns or even permanent visual loss, inflammation of respiratory membranes, and corrosive burns to all human tissue. It may even be fatal if swallowed.” (via Wikipedia)

But Wait, Isn’t The Water Treated?: Water is treated to a point where it reaches the minimum safety levels as dictated by the government. The safety levels of different chemicals is always changing, and Denver water management has done a pretty darn good job keeping those contaminants below violation levels. But at the same time, wouldn’t it be nice if those levels were even lower by not introducing the chemicals into the water system in the first place?

It’s great that most of the drain water contaminants are removed from the water so that it is safe to drink. But it’s only removed; it’s not gone from the planet. Those chemicals still have to be disposed of somehow, leading to a huge environmental concern: how do you safely store millions of barrels of poisons? Better to use a mechanical rooter service than to send those chemicals down the drain…or to have them ever created in the first place.

Grease Education: While it’s not a poison (except, perhaps, to your arteries!) grease is incredibly important to keep out of the sewer system.

How does this protect the environment? Well, imagine if everyone sent all of their grease down the drain. It causes clogs in the home, which have to be dislodged with rooter service. That sends it into the public sewer system. If restaurants weren’t required to use grease traps, all of that would head into the sewer system as well. That would lead to almost instant backups of the sewer lines, which would require thousands of man-hours a year to clean them, and during most of those they’d be running gasoline-powered dislodging equipment to fight the massive clogs and suck them up (more gasoline) and then transport them to the dump (even more gasoline).

The amount of grease in the sewer system couldn’t be handled by the treatment plant, so some of it would overflow downstream, polluting waterways and endangering wildlife. In other words, keep grease from going down the drain and protect the world!

It’s best to just avoid chemical drains completely and use the proven technology of rooter service. Give Garvin’s a call and you’ll be saving the environment and your sewer system.



The Sewer Snake: 7 Benefits To Having A Professional Take Care Of It


You might be a do-it-yourself kind of person, and we respect that. There are lots of projects around the house that can be taken care of and save you a lot of money. So go ahead, frame that bathroom, replace that chandelier, build a deck!

So when you start thinking “maybe I’ll just rent a sewer snake” and take care of my clogged sewer drain for myself. Again, we respect your interest, but we’ve got a few reasons why you might want to think twice before you head out to pick up a consumer-grade or rentable sewer snake.

The Danger of the Blades: We’ll get this out of the way first: sewer snakes are not something to be trifled with. Think about what the blades are meant to do…spin around wildly in order to get all edges of the pipe clean. Those blades are meant to go after tree roots, and if they can tear through tree roots they’re not going to have any trouble ripping through flesh.

The Danger of the Coil: The coil of a sewer snake is under a lot of pressure and isn’t always intuitive on how to use. There are far too many ways to let it get away from you or to send you to the hospital with crushed fingers.

The Danger of What You Bring Back Up: There are a lot of pathogens that you can bring back up through the sewer drain, so it’s important to wear the proper protective equipment and to disinfect the sewer snake properly.

Speaking of Bringing Stuff Back Up: Our job can be pretty disgusting, but there are ways to lesson the disgust, and not knowing what you’re doing makes it much worse: Are you familiar with the best way to bring back the sewer snake so that it doesn’t bring with it the stuff you wish had gone down the drain? Not to brag, but we’re highly trained so you never again see the stuff that you sent down the drain.

The feel: Not every job requires a sewer camera, so we often have to know if the clog is completely obliterated by feel. Since our drain cleaners do this every day, they’re familiar with the feel of the equipment and if the clog is gone or if it’s just been damaged enough to let the water pass through. This leads to…

The Thoroughness: If you use the sewer snake and it only “kind of” gets the clog cleared out, then your drains are going to be clogged up again before you know it. Leaving anything is just going to be a catalyst for the next blog, so it’s important to get professional sewer cleaning to make sure you get everything.

The Cost: Doing it right the first time will be cheaper than doing it over and over again…and it will take a lot less of your time, too.

In the end, you’re going to be a lot safer and a lot happier having a professional taking care of your sewer snake needs. Give Garvin’s a call when you’re having trouble.