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The Advantages of Knowing Your Yard: Sewer, Water, Electrical, Cable, and Gas

 

Don't pave that space if you're going to need some sewer cleaning.There’s so much going on underneath the ground that we never even think about, and we’re not talking about the lives of worms, insects, and other animals. There are pipes and cables that are connecting your home to the rest of the world, and it’s important to keep those lines safe so that you’re not losing your connection. Here are the reasons to know where everything is before you dig.

What Plants To Plant: We wrote an entire blog about what trees you need to avoid if you don’t want your sewer pipes and water lines being inundated with the roots. But it’s also important to avoid plants that might wrap around shallow telephone and cable lines, pulling them out of the ground and exposing them to the blade of your lawnmower or weed eater.

Where Not To Dig: We often hear about “calling before you dig” because of electric and gas lines. But it’s also important to know where not to dig so that you’re not disrupting your neighbors connection to phone and cable, which are carrying their internet. You’ll become very unpopular in the neighborhood if you knock out half of everyone’s internet!

Where Not To Lay Concrete: Sometimes there’s a space next to the driveway that’s either grass or gravel, a nice place for people to park during a party. If you’re considering laying concrete there and making it a permanent parking space, it’s important to know if you’ll have to rip it up if there are pipes and electrical wires under that space that need replacing in the future.

So, how do you find out what’s going on under your yard? Call 811 or visit http://colorado811.org/ to get your utilities located. And when you need sewer cleaning, give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call!

 

 

 

You’ve Got A Clogged Kitchen Sink… How Bad Can It Be?

 

Sewer cleaning might be on your calendar soon.Let’s say you finish doing your dishes and you reach over to flip the switch on the garbage disposal. But instead grinding for a couple of seconds and then letting everything swirl down the drain, dirty water jumps out of the other side of your sink. Or the water in the garbage disposal just sits there, refusing to go down either drain. You’ve got a clogged kitchen sink. How bad can it be?

Drain Cleaning: First, you’ll probably try a plunger (which, as we’ve suggested before, is a “sinks only!” plunger that you keep under the sink, and you label it as such so that you’re in-laws don’t grab it and sulley it in the toilet.) If the plunger works and the clog stays away, then great… there’s no need to give us a call. You might consider using a chemical cleaner, but please don’t. They seldom work for long, and they can lead to dangerous situations when further action is taken by a professional. If the plunger doesn’t work, contact Garvin’s and we’ll be there soon to take care of your drain cleaning needs. But what if your sink isn’t the only problem?

Sewer Cleaning: If your sink is running slow, and then you notice that your shower drain and toilets seem to be running slow too, you’re probably got the beginnings of a sewer problem. Sewer problems seldom, if ever, work themselves out on their own, and can get worse very quickly. Garvin’s Sewer Service has all the tools needed for proper drain cleaning and rooter service, and we can do a one-time cleaning or come back for preventive sewer maintenance if you’re having perpetual problems.

Sewer Repair: While Garvin’s doesn’t do sewer repair or replacement, we want you to know the options you’ll have if you have a break in your sewer line. First, we can provide sewer camera service, also known as a sewer scope. Having us take a look at your sewer problems will give you an unbiased opinion as to what your options are and what the next steps can be. If you have a small break in your line, you might be a candidate for sewer lining, where a balloon inflates and lines your sewer pipe with epoxy. Another option is sewer bursting, where another pipe is slipped inside your existing pipe. However, if you’ve had a severe break your only option might be sewer line replacement.

Sewer Replacement: The most disruptive method of fixing your sewer problem is complete sewer line replacement. The lawn is disturbed, trees might have to be removed, and a trench is dug in order to take up your old sewer line and replace it with a new one.

Sewer problems can be as simple as a plunger or as complex as a $20,000 replacement. If the plunger doesn’t work, contact Garvin’s Sewer Service as soon as possible and we’ll clean your pipes out or let you know of the best possible options.

 

 

The Worst Trees That Require You To Get Repeated Rooter Service

Some trees will require you to need rooter service.

“I’ll take the center square to block…my sewer pipes.”

In previous posts we told you about the problems of planting trees directly over your water and sewer lines, because eventually the roots are going to get in and you’re going to need repeated sewer service. But there are some trees that are going to cause you exponentially more problems because of the way their root systems work. You also need to be aware that the older your sewer system is, the more likely that the roots can get in.

If you’re considering planting some trees in your yard, be sure to avoid putting these particular varieties anywhere near pipes. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t plant these trees if they’re some of your favorites. But you do need to take extra precautions about placement to make sure that they’re not over any sort of water line.

Willows: Willows are perhaps the best-known of the sewer-destroying trees. Their roots are very aggressive and will do whatever they can to get into the joints of your water pipes or sewer lines. The worst offenders are the very popular weeping willow and the corkscrew willow, but just about anything in the Salix species of trees and shrubs will end up causing you problems.

Poplars: When you think of poplars, you probably think of the tall, fast-growing trees that are often planted in straight lines as windbreaks or to provide privacy While slow-growing trees will go deep in order to get to groundwater, trees like poplars have shallow root systems and would rather dig into a pipe than go any deeper. Interesting fact: cottonwoods are in the populus family.

Silver Maple: While they are fast-growing and turn a lovely shade of orange in fall, these trees can be big problems not only for your sewer lines but also for your sidewalks. On top of that, they aren’t very strong trees, so they’re more likely to topple during a storm or drop a branch onto your roof. If you really want a silver maple in your yard, plant it far away from your house and from all sewer and water lines.

American Elm: Along with the Siberian Elm, the American Elm is the most popular elm tree planted in Colorado. Like the trees mentioned above, the shallow roots don’t head much further down than a water-filled pipe, and once they dig into that there’s no reason to go any deeper.

We’re guessing that, after reading this article, you’ll be pretty careful about putting any of these anywhere near your sewer lines. But if you’ve moved into a house and you’re experiencing slow drains and toilets that drain cleaning just doesn’t seem to fix, you might want to look at the trees in the yard and see if they’re any of the offenders we talked about. It might not be your fault, but it is your problem. Regularly-scheduled rooter service might be a good idea in order to keep everything running smoothly and prevent sewer backups. Contact Garvin’s and we can make sure you continue to love the trees in your yard.

 

 

 

No Paper Towels! Why They’ll Lead You To Sewer Cleaning Faster Than You Think

 

Some of you might remember the short-lived television show “The PJ’s,” a stop-motion animated series that followed a building superintendent named Thurgood (voiced by Eddie Murphy) in “the projects.” In the very first episode there’s an exchange between the superintendent and a voodoo practitioner that rings true in all sewer services expert’s hearts:

 

Ms. Mambo Garcelle: Super, my toilet is clogged!

Thurgood: What did you flush down the toilet?

Ms. Mambo Garcelle: Nothing!

   (Thurgood stares at her suspiciously)

Ms. Mambo Garcelle: A goat’s head, wrapped in paper towels.

Thurgood: How many times do I have to tell you people? NO PAPER TOWELS!

 

Now, while we don’t advocate flushing goat heads down the toilet, we love the joke…paper towels are worse on the sewer system than an entire goat’s head! But why are paper towels so bad on our sewer system, and why are they one of the biggest offenders that lead to sewer cleaning?

They’re tough — When you see paper towel commercials, they’re always bragging about how tough they are. Heck, Brawny even uses the epitome of toughness, the lumberjack, as its mascot (or is it just a hipster…seriously, we can’t tell anymore). Paper towels are designed to hold up when wet, unlike toilet paper which is designed to hold up to wetness for just a few seconds and then break apart. It’s this toughness that prevents them from disintegrating no matter where they are in the water system.

They’re absorbent — The other thing paper towel commercials are always bragging about is their absorbency. That’s great when you’ve spilled a glass of iced tea on the counter, but you’ve got to think about what’s actually happening…the paper towel is getting bigger as it absorbs water. So when you flush a paper towel, it’s growing to its maximum size and stays at that size all the way down your drain and into your house lateral sewer line. When you combine this with their toughness, it’s just one big wad of dead tree fibers heading down and asking to get caught on something..

They’re big — Try this: take a square of toilet paper and try to fit it through a straw. Not exactly easy, but it can be done. Now try to do the same things with the smallest paper towel you can find. Toilets were designed to handle one of these two paper products and we’ll give you a hint…it wasn’t the paper towel!

Despite the wonders of select-a-size, paper towels are still big and thick. Because of this they’re more likely to be grabbed by whatever else is hanging out in your sewer line, stuff like tree roots and grease monsters. The paper towels are just going to sit there, not degrading, because they were designed to not degrade. Then they’re going to help grab the next paper towel you send down, and then the smaller stuff like regular old toilet paper, and it’s all making the problem worse and worse until you need professional rooter service.

We’ve said it many times before, but it never ceases to amaze us how many time people ignore us: the only stuff that should go down the toilet is human waste and toilet paper (preferably a brand that disintegrates quickly). If you follow this rule, it’s likely that you won’t need sewer cleaning quite so soon.

 

 

 

2 Questions To Ask When Your Sewer Cleaning Expert Is About To Leave

 

Whether we’re at your home for emergency sewer cleaning or just preventive rooter service, it’s always nice to see a technician go. As nice as we are, it’s great to have your service taken care of an off your list, and we understand if you’ve got no problems saying goodbye so that you can get on with everything else you have to do that day.

But before we go, make sure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions in the future. Here are 3 questions to ask your sewer drain cleaner before they go.

What Can Be Done To Prevent This Problem In The Future? Sometimes problems just happen. Even if you’re steadfast about preventing grease from going down the drain, 15 years of the tiny amounts of oil that are in vegetables might eventually build up and cause you to have a clogged kitchen sink. There’s not much that can be done about time-related problems.

But some problems can be avoided with just an ounce of prevention. Keep the bacon grease out of your drains, don’t flush paper towels, and have us back regularly because the roots have found your pipes.

Can I Have Your Card? — There’s a good chance that we’re going to leave you with a business card or a magnet for your fridge. If you’ve been pleased with our sewer cleaning service, there’s a good chance that you’re going to want to call us again the next time you have trouble. You don’t always remember the name of a business that performs well, but you will check your refrigerator to see who treated you well last time!

We’ll be there and get the job done as thoroughly as possible as quickly as possible. But before we leave make sure you get all your questions answered. Contact Garvin’s today!

 

 

 

What We Know That You Don’t: The Knowledge That Guides Our Sewer Drain Cleaning

 

Certain tree roots can lead to premature sewer drain cleaning.In the last blog we talked about everything that we need to learn from you when you’re in need of emergency sewer service, stuff like the history of the problem, if other sewer companies have tried to fix the problem, and if you’ve tried to fix the problem with chemical drain cleaners.

But what you might not know is what we already know when you walk up to your door. Here’s the information we’re coming to you with that you’re probably not even thinking about.

The Trees In Your Yard: If we see a willow tree in the middle of the front yard, we’d put money on what your problem is. Willow trees are notorious for getting into sewer pipes as they search for water, so seeing one in your front yard pretty much guarantees that you’re going to need rooter service. Other trees we watch out for are poplars and elms. Bushes aren’t usually a problem, but they might be hiding…

Where the external clean out line is: Many people like to hide their external clean out pipe behind a bush, and if it’s summer we’re not likely to see it. But we’ve dealt with enough PUD’s (Planned Urban Developments) to be able to close our eyes and point to exactly where it is. We’ve seen a lot of housing developments go up in Denver, and if the design of a home is the same then the plumbing and lateral sewer lines are usually in the same place as well. And speaking of neighborhoods we notice…

The Decade Your House Was Built In: When we walk up to your house, we’re scanning the area to gather as much information as possible. One thing we do is estimate when the house was built, which gives us a good idea of what kind of sewer pipe was used. If it’s a fairly new house, we’re obviously dealing with PVC or ABS. But if you’re house is from the 1950’s we’ll be dealing with something completely different. Of course, the year your house was built also tells us something about…

The Conditions Of The Sewer System In Your Neighborhood: Being so far west, Denver can’t really be considered an “old” city. We’re not exactly dealing with the ancient underground sewage systems that a city like Paris or London has to deal with. But the sewer systems have changed considerably over the years, and we know if the problems you’re having are due to your personal lines or if there have been problems with the public sewer system that might be causing you to give Garvin’s a call. We might also be able to deduce what your problem is if…

Your Neighbors Have Called: If we’ve been to three other houses on your block in the last month and they’ve all had the same problem, it might help us figure out exactly what’s going on with your sewer system. Did we have to perform rooter service because all of the trees in the neighborhood have reached the age where their roots are invading pipes? Or is it a 1950’s neighborhood where the pipes have started disintegrating?

That’s what we know before we even step one bootie-covered foot in your home! What we know can really help us deliver the best sewer cleaning available in Denver and along the front range. When you suspect problems or want to avoid them with preventive sewer cleaning, contact Garvin’s Sewer Service!

 

 

 

How To Talk To Your Sewer Drain Cleaning Expert

 

As you can imagine, we’ve gotten some pretty frantic calls over the years. People who have sewage blocking their toilet. People who have sewage flowing up out of their toilet. People who have sewage actively shooting out of their toilet. All of the people who called had a perfectly valid reason to be frantic!

When we get these calls, we suit up, grab our equipment, slide down the firepole (we don’t have a firepole, but DANG! we should get a firepole!) and race to your home as quickly as the law will allow. When we get there, we’ll dive right into the situation, but in order to help us find the cause of the problem it’s important that you tell both the person who takes your call and the technician we send as much as possible, no matter what problem you’re having. Basically, we need to know as much as you do. So we’d like to offer this advice.

Try To Be Calm: We understand that you’re in the middle of what is probably the worst experience of your year (we see a lot of people’s worst experiences). But the more calm you can be, the more information we can get out of you in a timely manner and the sooner we can get to the root of the problem.

Give Us The Background: Be sure to tell us exactly what’s been happening. Has the problem with your plumbing been going on for years, or is this the first time you’ve ever had an inkling of a problem? When was the last time you had sewer cleaning performed? Is Garvin’s the only company you’ve called to help with your sewer service, or have others had their go at it this year? Tell us everything you know, because even small details about how your sewer system has been acting can be important.

Tell Us Your Habits: It might be embarrassing, but it’s important for us to know exactly how you treat your drains and sewer lines. You might be embarrassed to tell us that you pour your bacon grease down the sink and flush your feminine hygiene products, but it’s important for us to know because it might alter the tools we use and the decisions we make. On a related note…

Be Honest: It’s important for us to know what you’ve already tried. If we’re there for drain cleaning, it’s critically important to let us know if you’ve already tried a chemical drain cleaner. We have had drain technicians scarred by drain cleaners that were sitting in the drain, even after the customer had insisted that no cleaners had been used. For our own safety and yours, please let us know about anything dangerous that might be in your drains.

Stand Back!: Once you’ve filled us in, stand back, ‘cause we’re gonna get to work! We’ll be protected from the situation with eye and face protection, rubber boots, and clothing that is specially disinfected once we leave. We don’t want you to have to deal with the stuff that can make you sick, so be sure to get some fresh air and find your insurance agent’s phone number.

When you call Garvin’s, you’ve called the sewer drain experts, so make sure that you give us all the information you can. We’ll make this terrible experience as easy as possible for you.

 

 

 

Roots In The Sewer Line? It’s Just The Beginning of Your Problem

 

What's happening when you have roots in the sewer line?

“I’m here to ruin your weekend!”

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a good review of exactly what’s happening when you have roots in the sewer line. Here are the steps that happen before you give Garvin’s a call for sewer cleaning.

The Cause: Why the heck are roots even in there in the first place? Well, they’re looking for water and nutrients. Trees send out roots underground in every direction, and they have absolutely no qualms of using your wastewater as a source of life. Think about it, even in a drought they will have constant water. In fact, a drought can make things even worse, as the tree will redouble its efforts of growing roots at the source of water. PVC pipe is usually pretty good at keeping tree roots out, but they will still get in at joints as glues weakens over time.

The Problem: Well, we all like trees and don’t mind if they’re stealing a little bit of water. Of course, the problem is that roots can start a clog. And often we’re not talking about big roots that our blackwater can get past; we’re talking about tiny roots that can get through tiny cracks and then turn into a mass that can resemble a spider web. And what’s the purpose of a spider web? To catch stuff. These roots will start to catch everything you send down, including grease and toilet paper and whatever else you send down the toilet.

The Solution: When you have roots in the sewer line, the solution is rooter service. We’ll send down spinning blades that will clear your pipes from edge to edge, chopping though not only the roots but also everything that the roots have collected. This sends it down into the much larger public sewer system.

The roots will eventually grow back, so now that you know your pipes are prone to root problems you might want to consider preventive drain cleaning to make sure everything keeps heading down at the right clip. Keep Garvin’s number close by so that you can call us at the first sign of trouble.

 

 

 

Clogged Kitchen Sink? Are You Sure?

Have a clogged kitchen sink?
Sometimes the reason for a clog is pretty obvious…you make some ill advised attempt to shred potato peels in your garbage disposal and then suddenly the water doesn’t go down anymore. Put two and two together…the peels caused the clog.

But it’s not always so obvious why your water sticks around like your slacker brother-in-law after the game. Sometimes it just stops working (like your brother-in-law…) So, we’re dealing with a clogged kitchen sink, which means a drain problem, right? Well, maybe not.

Yep, it could be the sink: Like we said, it’s not so obvious what clogged your sink. Was it a foreign object the kids sent down? Was it some new food you sent down that started as a liquid but then solidified? Or maybe it’s was just a slow, slow buildup of grease that finally caught that match stick that accidently fell down the drain and now won’t let anything past. Time to call Garvin’s for drain cleaning.

Nope, it’s your sewer: So the sink stops, and a simple plunger just isn’t taking care of it…or if it doesn’t, the clog’s back the next day. Then you start noticing that the toilet starts to go slower, swirling a lot more than usual. And now that you think of it, your feet were prunier than usual last night…were they in standing water in the shower last night? If all of your drains are running slow, you’ve probably got a sewer clog and it’s time to call Garvin’s for sewer cleaning.

Either way, if the basics of using a plunger aren’t taking care of our problem, it’s time for some Garvin’s in your life. Contact us when you’re in sewer trouble.

 

 

 

What Drain Cleaning Equipment Would We Put In A Sewer Museum?

A drain cleaning museum? Yes please!Okay, before you start laughing, you need to know that a sewer museum does exist…it’s the Paris Sewer Museum, and it’s been giving tours since 1889. The sewer tour takes an unused part of the old sewer system and details its evolution from the 14th century up to the modern forms of water treatment. Of course, the kind of sewers they’re talking about don’t involve modern home sewer systems, but instead focus on the storm drain and public sewer systems.

 

As drain and sewer cleaners, we’re not exactly required to make a pilgrimage, but it got us thinking about the aspects of our work lives that we’d be sure to include in a sewer museum. Here are a few of our favorites.

The Roto-Rooter: Sewers used to be huge brick structures with columns and arches. But when homes and apartments started being connected to the public sewer system, pipes got considerably smaller. That meant that sewer workers couldn’t get in there to clean the pipes out. Also, as centralized cities started having suburbs (mostly thanks to reliable automobiles), the common man could have a yard, and yards meant trees, and trees meant roots looking for nutrients. Before the invention of rooter service in the 1930 the only way to deal with a clogged drain was with harsh chemicals (which often didn’t work) or digging the pipe up. Imagine if you had to dig your sewer line up every time it got clogged! Rooter service and sewer snakes changed all that by providing a mechanical means to of sewer cleaning.

The PVC Pipe: We wrote about the history of many types of pipe, and we’d probably include examples of just about every kind that’s ever been used in sewers. But all of those so far have paled in comparison to the PVC pipe. These pipes hold up to both the environment and to the effects of time, and are certainly worthy of being in our sewer museum.

The Flush Toilet: You know, when you have a clogged kitchen sink, it’s nice to get it cleaned out and have your dirty dishwater go away. And it’s pretty awesome when you’re having a shower and everything heads smoothly down the drain. But when you add the flush toilet to the mix, there’s not doubt that it’s the one you want to work the most.

Flush toilets have been around in some form or another for centuries, with some truly unconventional designs. We’d love to have a few of the weirder ones in our sewer museum. Heck, maybe we’ll have a urinal in there too. On the wall.

The Snake Camera: The snake camera, also known as a sewer camera or sewer scope, is the last word on what’s going on in a sewer. Is it an especially bad grease clog? Did a major tree root work its way into a joint in the PVC pipe? Or maybe the pipe has collapsed completely. The sewer camera has changed the way that people deal with their clogged sewer problems, saving thousands of yards from having to be dug up.

Look, we’ve got no plans to open up a sewer museum anytime soon, but we can tell you that, if you open one, we’ll definitely come. Any museum that honors the professions of drain cleaning is one worth visiting!