Get Preventive Sewer Drain Cleaning and You Can Avoid The Horrors Of A Backup

Preventive sewer drain cleaning can prevent a mold explosion!

If you’ve ever experienced sewage in your basement, you know what a terrible situation it can be. And if you haven’t, be glad, because it’s just the beginning of problems that are going to last for months.

We’ll get this out of the way first…one way to prevent many instances of sewage backing up is to to have regular preventive sewer cleaning. If you keep the roots and clogs in your sewer pipe under control, it’s less likely you’ll experience the horrors of sewer backup.

So what should you do when you head to your basement and realize that there’s sewer water in your basement?

Don’t Jump In!: Okay, that might sound obvious, but if it’s ankle-deep some people put on their waterproof boots and step in to try to find the source of the problem. The number one reason you shouldn’t do this is because the water could be carrying an electric current if it’s reached any wall plugs. The safe level is even lower if you have plugged-in electronics that are sitting on the floor or carpet.

Instead, shut off the power to the basement. If this isn’t possible (for instance, if your electrical box is in your basement) call an electrician.

Open a window!: First of all, it’s going to stink and sewer gas can be noxious. Second, it will help reduce the chance of an airborne virus affecting you. Finally, it might have knocked out the pilot light and damaged your furnace or you water heater, so you’ll want to prevent the chance of explosive natural gas building up.

If you do walk around: If you’re intent on getting to the backup to investigate, make sure that you clean your footwear and anything else that come into contact with the water in a bleach solution. Do the same to any plungers you use.

Put on latex / rubber gloves: Some of your are going to want to try to fix the problem before you move onto the next step (calling Garvin’s Sewer Service), so if you do interact with it at all make sure to wear waterproof, protective gloves. Horrible diseases living in the water can enter through cuts in our hands (and your eyes and mouth, so wear eye protection and put on a surgical / dust mask).

Call Garvin’s!: No doubt about it, you’ve got a problem. And the best way to get life moving again is to call the experts, and we’re here 24/7/365. We know the best way to get your sewer line moving again, and can help you with the standing water. If your sewer drain doesn’t respond to typical rooter service, we can also send down the sewer scope (aka sewer camera) and see exactly what’s causing your problem.

Call your insurance and restoration company: As we’ve written about before, most standard insurance policies don’t cover water damage or a backed up sewer. If you’ve had the foresight to get such insurance, give them a call. Once we’re done, you can start with the restoration company as well.

A sewer backing up is a horrible thing, but we’ll leave you with one bright note. As bad as it is, remember that most of the water leaving your house is from washing machines, showers, and sinks. While you have to avoid the water on the microbial level, there’s not much chance you’ll encounter a whole lot from your toilet.

As we said, preventive maintenance can be a great step to keeping roots out of your sewer drain pipes, and being alert to sewer problems can help prevent sewer backups before they happen. Give Garvin’s a call at the first sign of trouble.



One More Thing About Garbage Disposal Installation and Proper Drain Cleaning


We talked at length recently about the right way to treat your garbage disposal so that the stuff you send down it doesn’t gum it up, cause it to stop working, and lead to unnecessary drain cleaning. But there are a few things that can happen even if you’re taking care of it.

Keep It Clean: Because garbage disposals are constantly chopping food, parts of the food are going to get tossed to the side and stick to the inside of the disposal. The food starts to rot, and the stink begins. Grinding ice can be a good way to clean it, as the ice will bounce around and knock the food off without damaging the blades. Chopping small pieces of citrus fruit peels can can freshen it up.

Use It Often: If you don’t know much about garbage disposals, you might be curious when you open the box and find a hex wrench (or maybe you moved in and found it under the sink. Or maybe whoever performed your last garbage disposal installation failed to tell you about it).

This hex wrench fits a hole in the bottom and can be used to manually move the blades in the garbage disposal. Why is this necessary? Well, sometimes the garbage disposal might lock up, usually due to disuse for some time. For instance, we’ve come back from a two-week trip, tried to turn it on, and found that it simply doesn’t work. Unplugging it and moving that hex wrench back and forth just a few times should get it up and running again.

Getting stuff out: If something hard goes down into the garbage disposal, like a hard fruit pit, a broken piece of glass, or a piece of silverware, don’t stick your hand down there. Unplug it and get the offending item out with tongs.

And if it doesn’t work?: What happens when you’ve tried everything and yet your garbage disposal still isn’t working? What if you’ve cleaned it out in every possible way and yet you know it’s still the source of the bad smell, and that it’s worth the money to you to replace it? Perhaps your 30 year old disposal sounds like a garbage truck eating a metal garbage can and you need a quieter one to deal with your new jittery dog. In all of these circumstance, give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call and we can get your garbage disposal properly installed!




Keeping The Wrong Stuff Out Of Your Garbage Disposal Prevents Unnecessary Drain Cleaning


Garbage disposals are pretty cool, we have to admit. It’s great when you’re cleaning plates after a meal and don’t want it to stink up the kitchen by having it sit in the trash. It’s also a great alternative to sink stoppers, which can be difficult to keep clean and keep on top of.

When you are in need of garbage disposal installation or cleaning, please give us a call here at Garvin’s. But we’re happy to give you a few tips to cut down on drain cleaning and keeping your garbage disposal up-and-running in the meantime.

Know what not to send down: People put the wrong stuff down the garbage disposal, and that can ruin both the disposal and clog your sewer drain. Don’t let the name fool you…garbage disposals aren’t supposed to be a trash can for anything that will fit into it.

So, what should you watch out for?

  • Stringy and starchy fruits and veggies – Potatoes skins, artichokes, mangos, asparagus, rhubarb, celery…all of these will cause your garbage disposal to choke and seize up. Many of these are just too tough for the blades, or their “strings” get caught around the blade mechanism. Send this stuff to your composter and let the heat and bacteria break them down so that they can fuel your garden.
  • Grease – We know, we say it a lot. (The moment people stop doing it, we’ll shut up about it!) Oils and grease aren’t just bad for you drain, they’re also bad for your garbage disposal. Put the grease in the trash or recycle it.
  • Coffee Grounds – Coffee grounds tend to get caught in the trap of your garbage disposal, so it’s best to toss them or compost them like the fruits we mentioned above.
  • Bones – Some garbage disposals claim that they are great at getting rid of chicken bones. We don’t recommend it. While chicken bones are certainly thinner and softer than what you’ll find in a t-bone steak, there’s really no reason to risk them getting trapped, starting a clog that you really don’t want to have to deal with.
  • Pits – This one is pretty obvious. Stone fruits like peaches (also known as drupes) produce pits that are as hard as…well, stone. Watch out for avocado pits as well (the skins are pretty tough, too). If it’s something that could rattle around in your garbage disposal for days, it’s probably a bad idea to put it in there in the first place.
  • Utensils – We know that you didn’t intentionally put your spoon into the garbage disposal, but when you turn it on and it sounds like a plane crash in your kitchen, you feel pretty freaked out (and you might have damaged the disposal as well.) Before you use your disposal, take a quick look to make sure that no one has dropped anything in (and that Lily Tomlin isn’t down there)  

Garbage disposals make life easier, but they’re not catch-alls for anything that falls down your drain. Treat it right and you won’t need drain cleaning nearly as often. But when you do, give Garvin’s a call.




4 Reasons People Call Garvin’s For Rooter Service


garvins_sitebg6_cartoon_mobileHere’s something that’s not a secret, even though we don’t like to admit it…when it comes to sewer cleaning in Denver and its suburbs, there’s more than one company you can go to for rooter service. Not really shocking, is it? So you might wonder why so many people choose Garvin’s Sewer Service when every drain in their home is running slow and rooter service and drain cleaning seem inevitable. Here are just a few of the reasons.

We’ve been at it for over 75+ years: Here’s the big one…we were the first sewer cleaners in Denver, and we’re still here. We started in 1940, so the new year will mark our 76th year serving Denver, its suburbs, and other nearby towns including Littleton, Arvada, Aurora, Longmont, Cherry Creek, Westminster, and just about every place in between. We’re now on our third generation of family owners and employees, because we’ve built a business that’s necessary and respected in the community. We started in the Golden Triangle neighborhood in Denver, but in 2001 we moved to Englewood in order to have a more space and a central headquarters (with a bit less traffic) to serve the Front Range.

Of course, a company doesn’t survive for more than three-quarters of a century without learning a few things, such as…

Respect for the customer: How long does a company last if they treat their customers poorly? Not long, and we’ve seen many companies come and go over the years who just didn’t know how to treat the customers right. They might charge for service only to have the problem return, or overcharge when the customers were at their most vulnerable.

At Garvin’s Sewer Service, we’ve outlasted those other sewer cleaners because we’ve always treated customers and their homes with the utmost respect, and that goes for every one of our employees. When you do that, you’re going to get…

Excellent Word Of Mouth: It’s not just because we’ve been around so long that you’ve heard of Garvin’s Sewer Service…it’s that people are talking about us. That’s because Garvin’s has changed with the times when it comes to customer service, delivering the absolute best available.

We’ve got the right equipment, and we know how to use it: Much as we’ve stayed with the times in regards to customer service, we’ve also kept up-to-date with the equipment we use. We’ve got the right equipment for your job, no matter whether you live in a 1,000 square-foot house with 100-year-old plumbing or need commercial sewer cleaning for a highrise with 200 toilets. We have the classic rooter service machines as well as the most state-of-the-art sewer jetters and sewer cameras. We know how to best deal with your plumbing and will bring the right equipment to clean your drains and sewer lines.

We’ve been doing this for a while, so we know how to deal with clogs, roots, and the worst of what people send down the drains. When you need the best in rooter service, give Garvin’s a call!



Have A Funky Smell Coming From Your Sewer Drain? Here’s What It Could Be


Stop just covering up the smell from your sewer drain.If you walk into a room and smell something bad, you might not know exactly what it is at first. Did someone microwave salmon? Did someone drop an egg behind the refrigerator? Maybe someone forgot to flush the toilet.

In these cases, we’ll let you take care of them…sewer cleaning service doesn’t usually involve finding eggs behind the fridge. But if the smells are coming from your drain, it’s a good idea to call us for drain cleaning. Some of these problems can be fixed easily, and others will need expert repair.

Garbage Disposal: Garbage disposals are pretty cool, in that they let you chop up your food refuse before it heads down the drain and becomes clog fodder. But because they’re grinding up the food and making it fly around the inside of the disposal, particles of the food get stuck to the sides and don’t get washed down the drain. The food particles start to rot, and the stink starts. To prevent this, grind some ice so that it will fly around and help dislodge the food (be sure to look away so that the ice shards don’t hit you in the eye). Grinding small bits of orange or lemon peel can also help freshen it.

Kitchen Sink: It’s unlikely that you’ll smell sewer gas coming from the kitchen sink, mostly due to how amazing j-traps are. If your kitchen sink stinks, it’s most likely a building clog above the j-trap that you need to take care of. The stink is coming from the spoiled food that’s accumulating and the grease that’s becoming rancid. Don’t use chemical drain cleaners; instead, give us a quick call.

Bathroom Sink: Bathroom sinks usually stink because of the accumulation of decaying matter, usually hair and skin cells. Sweet-smelling soaps and toothpastes can mask the problem for a while, but eventually it might become overpowering. If you’re not comfortable taking your drains and stoppers apart, give us a call and we’ll help with your drain cleaning.

Shower Drains: Shower drains are often the forgotten drain in the house. Well, it’s forgotten until you’re ankle-deep in water. If the clog is further down that just under the drain cover, it’s time to call for professional drain cleaning service.

Toilets: As dirty as we imagine toilets to be, they’re actually one of the least likely to smell (as long as the outsides and floors around them are kept clean, of course). That’s because most of the smell that might emanate them is stopped by the standing water that’s in the toilet, something that sinks don’t have until you get to the j-trap. If your toilet is the source, it might be a bigger problem. Check down in the…

Basement: All sewer drains run down the the basement, or under the house, for one simple reason: gravity gathers everything you want gone and moves it to the public sewer line. So if you go down to the basement and smell sewer gas, you’ve got a problem. This could mean that your sewer pipe is broken, which is preventing your sewage from reaching the public sewer line. Our sewer camera can head down and find out. It could also mean that your sewer vent has suffered some damage. In either case, we fix it or help you find someone who can.

If you’ve got a sewer smell problem you can’t fix, give Garvin’s a call and we’ll be there to help.




4 Sewer Drain Problems That Are Almost Impossible To Avoid


There are precautions you can take to avoid the need for constant sewer drain cleaning, but other things aren’t so easy to avoid. For instance:

Previous owners: If you’ve moved into a house that was previously owned, there’s a good chance that some of the stuff that they sent down the drain is still there. While they might have hired move-out cleaners (or maybe you hired move-in cleaners) to make the house sparkle when you bought it, there’s a lot of stuff left in the drains that you can’t see but can still affect your health and the health of your drains.

Because you don’t know how they treated your drains, problems might arise. However, you can avoid these problems if you call us for some of our Denver-famous preventive drain cleaning service.

Hair: Even if you use a hair trap, some of those hairs are going to slip down the drain when you shower. When you combine that with the grime that builds up because of skin cells, soap and hair products, your shower drain will eventually back up, leaving you to feel uncomfortable in standing water. Keep your sewer drains clean and send the stuff that comes off your body all the way down to the public sewer pipes.

Tree Roots: Trees! We love them! But their roots are constantly searching for water and nutrients, and sewer pipes give a constant supply of both. Roots getting into a sewer pipe is pretty normal and doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need a sewer line replacement any time soon. But it’s important to keep the roots cleared out so that they don’t grab passing toilet paper and create a clog that could back up into your home. You can’t necessarily avoid tree roots, but you can keep the roots at bay with proper rooter service.

Time: You use hair traps, you buy the fastest-degrading toilet paper, you don’t put a pizza plate in the dishwasher until all of the grease has been wiped off and put into the trash. Maybe you even stop stuff from going down your garbage disposal “just to be sure.”

You can be the most careful person in the world, but eventually over the days, months, and years, stuff is going to build up in your drains and sewer lines. It’s not your fault, and some of it can be attributed to the problems listed above.

Total Collapse: Entropy! Order becomes disorder! It’s the reason you have to clean your house, the reason that your old Zenith television wore out, the reason everything eventually gives out. We’ve been in the business for over 75 years and have seen a lot of sewer lines give up the ghost. We’ve also seen 75-years-old sewer lines that are just fine. Eventually, though, shifting ground and huge roots will cause it to crack and prevent your sewage from reaching the public sewer line. When this happens, we can send the sewer camera down to see what the damage is, and if it’s a total loss, we can recommend reputable sewer line replacement companies.

There are fixes to your problems, but not if you ignore them. Give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call and we’ll make sure your drain cleaning and sewer cleaning are taken care of in a snap.



What’s In Drain Cleaner? And Why Doesn’t It Work In Sewer Drain Cleaning?


Why drain cleaners don't work very well in sewer drain cleaningWe understand that there is a certain temptation that comes with chemical drain cleaners. After all, you simply have to go to the store, pay your $7 for some Drano or Liquid Plumr, and you’re good to go, right?

Well, not really. Chemical drain cleaners are one thing we rail against here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, and there are many reasons that we don’t use them in your home or ours.

What’s In Them: Chemical drain cleaners contain chemicals like sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrate, sodium hypochlorite, and aluminum. We’re not trying to scare you with big words, but we will scare you with their warnings to that, should it get in your eyes, mouth, or even skin, you should get to a poison control center immediately. After all, this stuff is made to dissolve organic matter. Hey, that’s exactly what you’re made of!

It’s Only A Short Term Fix: We admit, chemical drain cleaners can (but don’t always) work short term. They might get your drain to unclog that night, but it’s certainly not doing much to help you long term. Why?

Think of the clog in your drain. It’s sitting there, made of food particles, hair, grease, and all the other stuff that falls down the pipe. If you send a chemical cleaner down, it drops to the bottom (because the liquid is heavier than water) and settles on top of the clog. Then it gets to work, dissolving the most vulnerable part of the clog, often the fats. But the moment it pokes a small hole in the clog it heads down the drain and is gone. You’re happy because your water starts going down, but in many cases most of the clog is still there, only now it has holes in it. Because the clog is still there it can grab even more stuff, and once it fills up you’re just back to square one.

Maybe you’ll help it next time by using a plunger. Oh no you don’t, because…

Their Limitations Are Unlimited!: According the website of a popular consumer chemical drain cleaner [name redacted to protect the lackluster], you’d better not use a plunger because the product could splash back and get on your clothing. In our industry, that’s code for “splash back and blind you permanently.” Can you use it in a toilet? No. Can you use it in the dishwasher? No. Can it remove foreign objects that were dropped down the drain. No. Can you use them in any plumbing that has any rubber whatsoever. Again, nope.

If You Have A Root Problem: If your problems are roots, chemical drain cleaners are going to do something between “diddly” and “squat.” There are commercial grade acids that can help clear tree roots, but in most cases you’ll have to have a license to use them…and do you really want them in your home in the first place? We don’t want to have to deal with them either.

So what’s a person to do when they need proper sewer drain cleaning? Do what the chemical cleaner’s website says and give someone like Garvin’s Sewer Service a call when they don’t work and you need proper rooter service. We’ll clean your pipes edge to edge to make sure the clogs are truly gone.



What Is A Sewer Jetter?


You know, over the years in this blog we’ve talked quite a bit about rooter service. Most of the time we’ve referred to the mechanical sewer snakes that head down the pipe and grind everything in their path and on all sides of the pipe, taking care of grease, toilet paper clogs, and all of the roots that are causing you problems. But sometimes clogs need something bigger like a sewer jetter. Why?

Just Add Water: The big difference between traditional rooter service and a sewer jetter is the addition of water. Sewer jetters offer hydraulic sewer cleaning by spraying water at up to 5000 PSI (pounds per square inch) in order to dislodge debris from a sewer line and send it down into the larger municipal sewer system. It connects to a large, usually truck-based engine that compresses the water to get it up to these clog-destroying levels of power. It has some of the same properties of a purely-mechanical system in that you still need the sewer snake portion to move the hose down the sewer pipe so that the water can get to the clog.

Sewer jetters offer a great advantage because they’re using both mechanical and hydraulic means to get rid of clogs and potential future clogs.

But Can A Sewer Jetter Handle Roots?: You might wonder if a sewer jetter is strong enough to take care of roots. Oh yeah! At the incredible PSI that we’re talking about, there isn’t much that can stand up to a professional sewer jetter. Also, remember that the roots that have gotten into your sewer pipes are generally thin, new roots (unless you have a complete sewer line break, in which case we can send the sewer camera down for sewer inspection). These roots have to be small enough to fit between the joints of your sewer pipes, so they tend to be small. But their thin, weblike structure actually makes them worse than larger roots, because they’re more likely to capture the stuff that you’re sending down the drain. That’s what makes a sewer jetter so important. The initial, smaller nozzle pushes through the clog, and then the larger nozzle sprays backward to cut the roots from every direction (spraying backwards makes sure that it isn’t pushing itself away from the clog).

The Down Sides: So if sewer jetters are so amazing, why don’t they come out every time we do?

  • Because they have the water aspect, they have to combine the mechanical and hydraulic components, which makes them considerably more complex than your standard mechanical-only rooter.
  • They’re truck-or van-based, so we can’t just wheel them into your home with as much ease as a standard mechanical service.
  • This additional complexity means that you’re not only dealing with metal blades but also with water under enough pressure to cut bone, so we have to be extra-careful and attend tons of training in order to use it properly. If it’s unnecessary to introduce this safety concern, we probably won’t.

You won’t see a sewer jetter every time we stop by for one main reason: many of the blockages we encounter are perfectly fixable with traditional rooter service. But when you need a sewer jetter, we’re ready! Contact Garvin’s Sewer Service today!



If You Manage Hotels and Motels In Denver, Drain Cleaning Should Be A Top Priority


Denver hotels need drain cleaningDenver has its share of great hotels and just okay hotels. Same when it come to motels. But whether you manage one or a dozen, there’s one thing that should be at the top of your list…drain cleaning.

Why is this, you might ask, when everything seems to be running fine

You Can’t Control What Your Guests Send Down The Toilet – If a person is staying one night at a hotel, how much do they care how they’re affecting the drains and sewer system of the entire hotel? Even if they are there for a week, they’ll never treat your drain system with the same respect as they would with their own, where they are the ones responsible. So what’s going down to clog up your drains? Rolls of toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, condoms, food too stinky to leave in the trash, and the dietary leavings of businessmen eating meat-heavy diets on an expense account. All heading down your drains and hurting your sewer system.

Sinks – Much like toilets, it’s impossible to determine exactly what people are thinking when they send stuff down the drain. Sure, you can forgive the occasional toothbrush, because it was probably an accident. But how did all that dental floss get down there? Are they simply using it and tossing it in the sink? We’re sure your handymen have found some other pretty weird other stuff down the sink as well, and eventually it’s going to get so bad that you need to call professional drain and sewer cleaners

Shower Drains – If you never have to drain your shower drains at home, there’s a good chance you’re someone with short hair. But when you’ve got people from all walks of life showering, they’re going to send all sorts of long hair down the drain. Just because it’s not a problem that you deal with personally doesn’t mean that it’s not something you have to deal with professionally.

Your Restaurant Could Be Adding To The Problem – If you’re having trouble with your sewers constantly clogging, there’s a good chance that your restaurant may be part of the problem. Grease traps are great, but you have to make sure they’re drained and properly cleaned with a sewer jetter. And even the best ones can’t be 100% efficient. If your sewer pipes are constantly needing cleaning, maybe it’s time to get a new sewer trap installed.

If You’re Having Trouble With One Drain… – Sometimes drain problems aren’t really drain problems. If you’re having trouble with one drain, sure, it might be just that one drain. But if you’re having trouble with many drains in your hotel, there’s a good chance that’s it sewer service that you’re needing.

Taking care of a hotel or motel (or many) is a huge responsibility, and how your guests feel about it determines whether or not they’ll come back. If they have any problems because of the drains, it could lead to a bad review online that could convince others not to come. Don’t let your drains be the cause of lost business…call Garvin’s Sewer Service today!


You Can’t Learn Everything From About Drain Cleaning From The Clog Blog, So Like Us On Facebook!

At Garvin’s, we try to keep in touch with our customers as much as possible. That’s one reasons we keep this Clog Blog going, but we certainly know that there aren’t that many people who bookmark it and read every post. And it’s a shame, too, because we really do offer a lot of great tips on how to get the most from your drain cleaning service.

So how can we help you on a more frequent basis, keep you informed of some fun stuff to do in Denver, and make you laugh a little bit more? Like us on Facebook

You’ll be able to ask us questions directly and get the knowledge about Denver plumbing and drain cleaning that’s been passed down for three generations now. What are you going to find when you get there?

Drain Tips: We want your business, and when you’re having drain problems we’re happy to give you free quote and then get all of your drains taken care of. But we also want to help you take care of them yourself, so you’ll get lots of info on stuff like drain cleaning.

Emergency Warnings: Want to ask a question about something funny that’s going on with your sewer? Send your question to use, because we might be able to tell you if the next time you flush is the straw that going to send everything back up your drains.

Avoiding Scams: We’ve built our reputation in Denver and the surrounding area for over seven decades. That’s why we get so steamed when someone comes in and destroys people’s trust in the profession.

Stuff For Fun: Hey, it can’t all be work talk, can it? We can help tip you off to stuff going on in Denver, or post a funny picture that might or might not have to do with drains and sewers. After all, when we’re facebook friends, you expect us to have at least a little personality, right!

We hope you’ll stop by Facebook and like our page. We look forward to hearing from you!