4 Signs That You Might Be Needing Sewer Cleaning Soon


Sewer cleaning might be on your calendar soon.Unless you’ve just moved in, you know your home pretty well even if you don’t realize it. You can’t consciously describe the normal blowing of your furnace in winter, but you certainly can tell when it starts making a different noise. You seldom notice the refrigerator cycling on, but when it goes off with a quirky noise you start wondering if you’re going to be heading to the appliance store soon.

It’s much the same with your drains. Since you use them every day, you get used to the way they work, and it’s not until something changes that you really notice it. It can be the subtlest of changes, but you notice because something is different. Here are four signs that you might be needing sewer cleaning soon, so keep an eye and an ear out for them.

The Sink Slows: A strange sound coming from your sink could be an early indication that something weird is going on. Do you hear a new gurgling sound as you let the water out? Do you hear a similar sound when you flush the nearest toilet? All of your sewer pipes are connected, so it’s important to notice these connections.

You know how fast your water goes down the drain, so when it’s even a little slow it’s very easy to notice. If you have two sides of the sink, test the water drainage on both sides. Run the garbage disposal to give both sides an equal footing. If it’s a problem with the garbage disposal, maybe it’s time for a new one. Or you can unplug it, unhook it from the sink, and check to see if there’s a clog between the garbage disposal and the pipes leading away from it. If, when you run the disposal, water sprays up through the other side of the sink, you have a drain clog. Work it with your “sinks only” plunger, and if that doesn’t work give Garvin’s a call and we’ll get them clean.

A slow sink doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re entire sewer line is clogged, but it might be the first sign. Are you also having problems with your…

Angry Toilet: Aside from being the great name of a rock bank for sewer workers, you’ve got to watch out for Angry Toilet. It might first start out as Placid Toilet, simply letting the water flow away a little slower than usual. This could simply be a clog, so give it a go with a plunger. But if you flush and you see water coming up through you shower drain, it’s pretty obvious you’re the victim of a sewer drain clog. The water you’ve flushed has nowhere to go, and it might just end up in the lowest drain in your home, which is often a shower drain.

Watch Your Washing Machine: Washing machines can eject their dirty water with some force, so when it’s at the end of its washing cycle the water is going to go somewhere. Usually that “somewhere” is down the drain and into the sewer system, but if there’s a sewer clog then that somewhere is usually up through the sinks, toilets, or showers.

Sniff For Smells: Sometimes a clog is just bad enough where it will let the toilet flush and the sink drain, but just barely. When that happens, each flush might back up enough to get around the trap but not enough for you to see the problem. If you smell something, don’t delay in calling a professional drain company.

Your senses will tell you when you’ll soon be in need of drain or sewer cleaning. Be aware of the changes in your home and you’ll be able to prevent a catastrophic backup. Before that happens, give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call!




The Sewer Drain Cleaning That You’re Responsible For


video_ctaWe try to blog here at Garvin’s as much as possible, and sometimes we forget what we’ve covered and what we haven’t. Well, we just realized that we’ve never broken down the different parts of your sewer system, so here it is. We’ll also tell you exactly what parts of sewer drain cleaning are your responsibility.

But first, let’s talk about what the sewer isn’t. The pipes that bring fresh water into your house isn’t part of the sewer system. Neither are your sprinklers or your garden hoses. ”Sewer” is only about the stuff that’s leaving your home, so let’s break it down a little bit more.

Drains: Drains are the first part of your sewer system and the part with which you’re most familiar. These include sink drains, shower drains, washing machine drain, dishwasher drains, and toilets. In modern houses, most of these are made from plastic, no matter what the fixture itself is made out of. Drains use gravity to move water from the drain and to the sewer pipes.

Perhaps the most amazing part of a drain is the trap, also called U-traps, S-traps, J-traps, or P-traps. These bends in the drain trap a small amount of water in your pipe, and while at first that might seem like the opposite of what you’d like, it actually plays an important part in your drain system. The water acts as a non-permeable barrier for gas, preventing sewer gases from coming back up into your home. Hurray!

Upper house lateral: When the drains come together they form the first part of the sewer line. Since the sewer line that leaves your house is called the house lateral, this first part is called the upper house lateral (since it’s the portion most uphill). This is the part of the sewer line that you’re responsible for, and the part that you’ll have to hire sewer cleaning for when you have a house-wide clog. Common problems include pipe breakage and tree roots that get in as they search for nutrients.

Private cleanout: Most houses have a private cleanout outside of the house, and it’s likely you’ve never even noticed it before. It might be hiding in your front bushes, wait for the day you need sewer service!

Lower House Lateral: Once you reach the property line of your sewer line the problem is no longer yours (well, it’s not yours to have to clean…you might still have to deal with the effects of  a backed up sewer). If the problem is beyond your property line, the city will need to clean it out, usually via the…

Public Cleanout: The lower house lateral is still pretty small, so it’s not like the public workers can just climb in there and clean it out. And they don’t want to climb down into the sewer every time there’s a clog on their watch, so they have a cleanout where they can send down their own rooter service.

The Sewer: This is the public sewer system where everything people put down their drains eventually goes. It’s much less glamourous than it is on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So there you have it…the life of sewage! Having problems with a clog in your drains or the upper lateral? Give Garvin’s Sewer Service a call for the best in sewer drain cleaning!




Things That Even Sewer Cleaning Can’t Prevent


Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we’re always interested in helping you prevent the need for emergency sewer cleaning. Even though it’s how we make our living, we’d rather see you for preventive drain cleaning than to have to rush to your house because you’re ankle deep in blackwater. We’d rather establish a relationship with you as your go-to honest sewer cleaners than to be at our doorstep every month due to preventable problems.

But some problems just can’t be avoided no matter how careful you are. Here are a few issues that you’ll need to call a professional sewer service to deal with.

Sewer Line Breaks – Some sewer lines can sit in the ground for a hundred years and only require occasional sewer service. Other’s will break after fewer than 20 years, simply because the ground underneath them wasn’t compacted enough (it’s the same reason you get potholes in a road). So you don’t always know when a sewer line break is coming, and there might not be any warning.

When your house lateral sewer line breaks (the part that you’re responsible for), you’ve suddenly lost your connection between the water leaving your home and the public sewer system. At that point it’s pretty obvious what happens: instead of heading down the sewer pipe, anything you send down the drain is now hitting dirt, and while some of the water can be absorbed by the ground, any solids will be stuck in place. As you use a drain, either via a toilet flush or a letting it head down a sink, anything that goes down has nowhere to go, and at that point it can start coming back up. When that happens, give us a call and we can confirm the break with a sewer camera and talk through your options.

Sometimes there is warning, though. If the pipe hasn’t broken completely, it might be letting some of the sewage go through, just not so easily. So if you’re noticing slow drains all around, give us a call and we can send down the sewer scope to see if it’s simply a clog or something much worse.

Public Sewer Problems: There’s one thing more disgusting than having your own sewage back up…and that’s having someone else’s sewage back up into your home!

The public sewer line isn’t your responsibility, but it can be your problem. Public sewers can have blockages from time to time, but thankfully it’s not that often. There’s a chance it could be a root problem, but more than likely the pipes were simply so old that they broke or disintegrated, or a grease monster grew in the sewers from people pouring too much fat down their sinks.

The only thing that you as a resident can do is to not send your own grease down the drains, and preach the wonders of grease prevention to your neighborhood. Oh, and vote “yes” if there’s a tax increase for public works!

An Inconsiderate Guest: You can baby your drains and sewer lines all you want, but all it takes is a single guest who’s apparently never used a bathroom before to shave a Bigfoot and decide way to hide the evidence is to flush it down the toilet all at once. You can’t prevent this, but suddenly you’ve got a huge problem on your hands.

When unpreventable problems come your way, don’t think twice before giving us a call right here at Garvin’s Sewer Service. We’ll be there in a flush!



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.




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.