Have a Clog? Don’t Use Chemical Drain Cleaners

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Plumbing Tips, Uncategorized

You know the signs of a clogged drain all too well. Instead of flowing quietly through your plumbing, the water gurgles and glugs. Over time, the small pools that form around your drain as you wash dishes or your hands eventually turn into little lakes. In some cases, the water backs out of your drain after seeming to go down, and what comes up looks dirtier than what you originally rinsed away.

You also know that if you don’t handle the clog quickly that it could contribute to leaks and flooding. You don’t want to go through the hassle of calling a plumber, so you feel tempted to rely on a chemical drain cleaner instead. After all, the advertisements suggest that the formula will quickly scour your pipes and break down any debris. Soon you can go back to washing your clothes or bathing your children as normal.

But don’t grab that plastic jug just yet.

Despite manufacturer claims, chemical drain cleaners may do your plumbing more harm than good. Unless you use a product specifically recommended by your plumber, your cleaner may have the following problems.

1. The Fumes Are Toxic

Take a quick look at your drain cleaner’s label. You’ll likely see a lengthy list of warnings describing the negative health effects. Although these health effects vary depending on the product, you can experience skin irritation or even severe burns if you spill the cleaner on your skin.

Even if you were to exercise the utmost care when pouring the chemicals down your drain, the formula will still release fumes into the air, and these fumes can linger for days after usage. If inhaled, many drain cleaners cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, and fainting.

2. The Chemicals Erode Pipes

Different products rely on varying chemicals to unclog your pipes. Caustic drain cleaners, for example, use caustic potash or lye to dissolve clogs. Oxidizing cleaners often feature nitrates, bleach, and peroxides. Acid drain cleaners have hydrochloric or sulfuric acid.

But no matter which product you use, you can expect your chemical drain cleaner to react with the hair, scum, and debris in your plumbing and create heat. The reaction and resulting heat can soften modern PVC pipes and corrode older copper, steel, and cast-iron pipes, especially if used incorrectly.

If your pipes have already suffered minor damage or corrosion from general wear and tear, the chemicals could worsen the condition of your plumbing and increase the likelihood of leaks.

3. The Formula Upsets Bacterial Balance

If your plumbing connects to a septic tank rather than a municipal sewer system, you should avoid chemical drain cleaners as much as possible.

Septic tanks contain a delicate balance of bacteria colonies and chemicals. When you flush waste down your plumbing, the bacteria break down and consume the debris that accumulates in your tank, and the remaining water flows away into your drain field.

However, experts have found that only 12 grams of bleach (or similar drain cleaner) can effectively kill many of the bacteria colonies in your tank. Without adequate bacteria in your septic tank, the waste will accumulate, and you’ll have to pump and replace your failing system.

4. The Results Are Temporary

If you have a small, manageable clog, a mild store-bought drain cleaner might help you clear away some of the debris and allow the water to flow smoothly once more. But keep in mind that drain cleaners have limits, and they won’t compensate for undersized, outdated, or damaged plumbing.

Clogs can occur for a variety of reasons, not just the food you toss down the
disposal or the hair you shed in the bath. If you have a backed up sewer line, broken pipe, or non-dissolvable item (such as a toy or tool) lodged in your plumbing, drain cleaner will only address surface buildup rather than the underlying cause.

If you’re lucky, the product will give you enough clearance to restore minimal water flow, but your pipes might clog again and again and again, despite frequent cleanings. If you’re unlucky, the drain cleaner will sit on top of the clog and continually eat at your already compromised pipes, resulting in additional damage.

Call Your Plumber Whenever You Have a Clog

Chemical drain cleaners have a lot to offer homeowners: convenience, affordability, and speed, to name a few. But unless you know the precise nature of the clog, the overall condition of your pipes, and how the ingredients will react in your plumbing, you’ll be better off skipping the drain cleaners and talking to a reliable plumber.

When you schedule professional drain cleaning, you can rest easy knowing that the plumber will only use professional equipment. Additionally, your plumber can thoroughly inspect your pipes and pinpoint any problems that would result in repeated clogs.

Water Heaters: Tank Vs. Tankless

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Uncategorized

For every shower, clean dish, or fresh shirt, you need hot water. Without it, cleaning might not be as effective, and showers can be painfully chilly. But while a water heater benefits every house, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right water heater for your needs.

Today, tankless water heaters are available, giving the average homeowner an alternative to the traditional tank water heater. But how does this tankless option compare to a tank water heater? To learn more about the pros and cons of each water heater, keep reading. We’ll discuss how they’re different and how they’ll affect your home life and wallet.

Tank Water Heaters

With traditional water heaters, a large tank fills with water and heats it up. When you use some of the water, the tank refills and continues to heat to make up for the lost water.

Pros

Traditional water heaters are used in plenty of homes across the country, and despite being an older technology, they still have their advantages:

  • Reasonable repairs and maintenance. If something should go wrong with your tank water heater, the maintenance and repairs are fairly inexpensive compared to tankless water heaters.
  • More affordable installation. Out of the two water heaters, tank water heaters can cost less to install.
  • Easy installation. While tank water heaters are easy to install, they also have fewer limitations as to where they can be placed. They don’t always require electricity, so as long as they get enough fuel, they’ll operate smoothly just about anywhere in your utility room, basement, garage or another suitable place.

You might decide that with these benefits, a tank water heater is best for your home.

Cons

However, like any appliance, tank water heaters have their downsides too. But, depending on the size of your family and home, some of these may not be much of a nuisance as all:

  • Large in size. Tank water heaters are rather bulky, so if you don’t already have a place for one, it can be difficult to locate a suitable space. Or, even if you do have an area for it, it can take up prime space in your garage or closet.
  • Short life span. When the two water heaters are set side by side, tank water heaters may not last as long. On average, they last about 10 to 15 years, and then they’ll need to be replaced.
  • Costly utility bills. Because these water heaters constantly keep water hot, they use up quite a bit of fuel to maintain the same temperature. Compared to tankless water heaters, this option results in more expensive utility bills.
  • Limited hot water supply. Water heater tanks only hold so much water at a time, and it takes a while for it to fill up again. So, if everyone in your family takes a lengthy shower, the last person might get a spray of icy cold water.

If these downsides are too much for you, consider a tankless water heater instead.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters heat water on demand by heating the water as it flows through the heater. For instance, some tankless water heaters heat two or three gallons of water per minute at a constant rate.

Pros

The setup and operation of a tankless water heater allows a few helpful benefits, and you may find that these suit your situation better than your tank water heater.

  • Small size. Unlike tank water heaters, tankless water heaters don’t constantly hold water. As a result, these water heaters are quite a bit smaller, so they can fit in slimmer areas.
  • Requires minimal maintenance. Tankless water heaters don’t need a ton of work or repairs over the years, so you don’t have to worry too much about them breaking or slowing down. Annual flushing/descaling is recommended.
  • Long-lasting operation. Despite not needing a ton of maintenance, tankless water heaters do have a longer life span than tank systems. These can last over two decades, so you can rest assured your water heater will last for some time.
  • Constant hot water. With tankless water systems, you don’t have to worry about running out of water. Since water runs directly through the water heater and heats instantly, you can count on getting hot water whenever you need it.
  • Lower utility bills. Because tankless water systems only work on demand, you’ll use less energy on a regular basis, and you won’t have to pay as much for monthly utilities.
    If these benefits are what you’re looking for, a tankless water heater is a great option.

Cons

This newer technology also has its disadvantages in regards to your wallet. Depending on your finances, tankless water heaters may not be the best option.

  • Expensive installation. While tankless water heaters can be more inexpensive in the long run, they cost quite a bit more to install than their tank counterparts.
  • Limited installation locations. Tankless water heaters need to be in close proximity to a power source, and this can complicate the installation a bit. You may need a little bit of electrical work done to accommodate the water heater placement.
  • Costly repairs and maintenance. If something does go wrong with your water heater, it can be an expensive affair. Be sure you’re prepared for the expense just in case.

If your primary concern is the amount of money a new water heater will cost, tankless might not be a great option for you.

When you’re trying to decide between tank and tankless water heaters, use the information above. But if you’re still having trouble, speak to Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc. We can help you find the best fit for your home or business, and once you make a decision, we’ll professionally install the water heater for you.

8 Signs Your Toilet Needs to Be Replaced

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Uncategorized

You put a lot of effort into maintaining your home and ensuring everything is in working order. One of the most important systems you need to maintain is your plumbing. And when your toilet doesn’t work properly or it appears to be damaged, the ordeal can be frustrating, and it can be difficult to determine when it’s time to give in and replace the toilet entirely.

Below, we’ll discuss eight signs that it may be time for a toilet replacement.

1. Constant Clogging

Nobody likes to deal with a clogged toilet. While they’re not uncommon, random or recurring clogs can indicate an issue. If you have an old, lowflush toilet, you may experience stoppages far too often. If you experience clogs more than once a week, or the clogs seem random and odd, you should probably replace your toilet.

If you don’t want to lose the water-saving benefits of a low-flush toilet, simply replace your current toilet with a more efficient and effective commode. Modern technologies have come a long way, and low-flush toilets are much better than they used to be.

2. Cracks

When you notice puddles of water around your toilet, you may want to check for cracks in the porcelain. While the toilet may work fine, leaks can waste a lot of water, and that water exposure can damage your flooring over time. It can also result in mold or mildew growth.

Look for cracks in the bowl or the tank of the toilet. If you notice any, or if you hear constant running from your toilet, replace it right away before the situation gets worse. If you can’t tell if there’s a crack, put dye in the water of the tank or bowl and see if the dyed water makes it to the floor.

3. Plentiful Repairs

Toilets shouldn’t need to be constantly repaired. If you find yourself regularly calling for a plumber to fix the toilet, replace it. Frequent repairs can add up, and you can save yourself a bit of cash over the years if you invest in a new toilet.

Or, if your toilet requires numerous repairs all at once, it may be cheaper to replace the toilet instead. Discuss the situation with your plumber, and he or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option.

4. Excessive Age

Even if your toilet is a little old, it may work just fine. But older toilets are often more inefficient than the newer models, so it may be a good idea to replace your toilet and save some money and water. Consider a toilet with a dual-flush feature. It allows you to partially flush for liquid waste and fully flush for solid waste. That way, you can maximize your savings both in water use and utility costs.

5. Wobbling

If your toilet wobbles, it may be a simple problem of loose screws. A plumber can easily tighten the bolts and ensure everything is properly placed. But wobbling can also signify a bigger problem. The floor beneath the toilet may be rotting away or water damaged, so if you notice wobbling, call a professional to check it out.

6. Inefficient Flushing

When you find that your water bills are high, investing in a new, water-efficient toilet can help you keep your bills down. The average toilet uses three to five gallons of water with each flush, while a low-flush toilet uses about two gallons for every flush. If you have a large family or are environmentally conscious, such a change can help lower your water bill and water usage.

7. Surface Damages

If you have a lot of scratches on the surface of your toilet, you may want to replace your toilet for cosmetic reasons. Excessive scratches can make it difficult to keep the fixture clean. This damage is more common with older toilets that have been scrubbed numerous times over the years, so if you find that you’re cleaning your toilet more often than you should, it could be time for a replacement.

8. Built-Up Mineral Deposits

In areas with hard water, the minerals in the water can collect in the inlet holes and syphon tube. Such buildup can keep water from flowing effectively, making the toilet inefficient. In some cases, you may be able to clear some of the deposits away by chipping at the buildup, but this step is not always successful. If the buildup gets bad enough, your toilet may need replacement.

 

There can be several different signs that your toilet needs replacement, but no matter the reason, be sure you call a professional to do the job. Rely on Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc. for any of your plumbing needs. We can replace your toilet efficiently, and we can help you find the right solution to your problem.

What to Do When Your Bathroom Floods

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Uncategorized

Modern indoor plumbing includes some of the most useful inventions in the history of humanity. When the toilet overflows or when the shower drain backs up and floods your bathroom, you may be faced with an unpleasant situation.

When your bathroom floods, take action immediately. Follow these steps to minimize the damage to your home that the water (and maybe sewage) can do.

Improving Your Water Usage With Modern Technology

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Plumbing Tips

When you wash your hands, flush the toilet, or take a shower, you may not realize how much water you actually use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average four-person American family uses as much as 400 gallons of water a day, just completing necessary daily activities.

Luckily for the environment and your wallet, modern manufacturers have developed new appliance models that drastically reduce water usage and offer other benefits as well. If you’re ready to lower your water bills and create a more eco-friendly home, replace your older appliances with a modern alternative.

CONTACT US

Jim Dhamer
Plumbing and Sewer, Inc.

630-964-2222

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