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.

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.

Bathroom Remodeling 101: A Homeowner’s Guide to a Successful Remodel

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Plumbing Tips

You consider your home a sanctuary-a haven where you go to escape the pressures of work and the world. It’s a space that’s uniquely yours, and it provides you with all the luxuries and comforts you want.

But what if you want certain areas of your home to be a little more luxurious? What if you want to upgrade the look and functionality of one space just to make your home a little more welcoming at the end of a long day? And what if you want to remodel your bathroom but fear that the project won’t be successful?

As a homeowner, you know that a bathroom renovation could cost a lot – but it will also add value to your home. You don’t want to risk a flopped project, yet you aren’t sure what you need to do to ensure its success.

Below, you’ll find several tips that you should use as you plan for your next bathroom remodeling project.

Make a Design Plan

The first thing you need to do when you choose to remodel your bathroom is to create a design plan. After all, any professionals who assist you can’t do their jobs correctly if they don’t know what you want. You can draw a rough sketch of what you want the space to look like, or you can simply make a list of things you’d like to change.

For example, if you want to retile the floor, convert your tub to a shower, hide the toilet in its own closet, and install new accent features, write these items down on a list. The more concrete, set ideas you have before the project begins, the easier and faster it will be to complete.

Determine Your Budget for the Project

Once you’ve come up with a design for your updated bathroom, set a budget for the project. How much are you willing to spend on materials and labor? You can always talk to a professional plumber and get a quote so you know how much the remodel could cost. On average, homeowners spend a little over $9,000 on bathroom remodels.

Additionally, you should include emergencies in your budget. For example, you may run out of materials or there may be an unforeseen problem with the plumbing.

Always Use a Professional’s Assistance

You’ve got your design plan, and you’ve set your budget for the project. Now, you need to turn to the professionals. Unless you are a certified plumber or electrician, it may be wise to engage the help of a professional technician.

Your home’s plumbing and electrical systems are complex, and licensed plumbers and electricians ensure that each step of the remodel is completed correctly. Always use an expert as you start your remodel.

Choose the Materials Beforehand

When you begin any project, you need to have all the materials on hand and ready to go. This fact is even truer with bathroom remodels. You don’t want the renovation to take longer than necessary. So by purchasing your materials beforehand, you make your plumber’s job much easier and faster.

Additionally, your plumbing expert won’t have to guess on the kinds of fixtures or materials you want-you’ll have already made the decision and he or she will fully understand your vision for the space.

Splurge on One Item

As you choose the materials for your remodel, pick one item in your bathroom to splurge on. Install granite countertops or marble flooring in the space. Convert your small tub into a larger tub and shower combo. Or, add in-wall shelves to increase your storage space.

This one splurge adds an extra splash of luxury and elegance to the space, and you’ll appreciate the aesthetic it provides.

Install Energy- and Water-Efficient Fixtures

While you’re remodeling your bathroom, why not help save the environment-and lower your water and energy bills? Ask your plumbing professional to install energy- and water-efficient fixtures. These fixtures include water-friendly showerheads and toilets, as well as energy-efficient lights and water heaters.

Though these items may cost more upfront, you’ll more than make up for the cost as you save money on your monthly bills.

Find Out If Your Plumbing Services Will Be Disrupted

Finally, talk to your plumber and see if any of your plumbing services will be turned off during the remodel, especially if you have children or seniors living with you. As experts upgrade your bathroom and work on different fixtures, they usually have to turn off your home’s water. Your technician will likely tell you at least a day in advance if he or she will turn off any plumbing service so you can plan accordingly.

How to Get Started

Ready to create the bathroom of your dreams? Use the information in this blog to create a design plan for your project and to ensure you have the perfect bathroom for you and your home. When you need assistance with the entire venture, get in touch with the qualified, licensed plumbers at Jim Dhamer Plumbing & Sewer, Inc.

Sludge, Gunk, and Grime in the Tub: What You Need to Know About Sewage Backup

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

Your home’s plumbing system is made up of an effectively designed combination of pipes. Each pipe fits perfectly into a set order so your home can receive fresh water when you turn on the tap and remove wastewater with the flick of a handle.

For your home to work properly and efficiently, all of these pipes must function as they were designed to. The pipes that bring water into your home should only ever provide clear, clean water from the spout. And the pipes that remove wastewater should never let water come back into your home.

Sometimes, though, the pipes that lead from your sink to the sewage system don’t work as they should. Sometimes, sewage and water back up through the pipes and reenter your home.

Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about sewage backup and why you should take immediate action if you notice it in your tub, shower, or sinks.

Causes of Sewage Backup

More often than not, you’ll experience a backup for one or more of the following reasons:

Sanitary Main Issues

If the sanitary main for your neighborhood has a block or stops working, you could experience sewage backups in your home. Your city public works office monitors and clears the mains frequently to prevent backups. But when a blockage isn’t detected in time, pressure will build in the main, causing the sewage to backflow. The sewage will then enter your home through the plumbing as the built-up pressure pushes it back.

Tree Root Growth

As trees grow, their roots descend deep into the ground looking for water and nutrients. If the roots come into contact with your pipes, they’ll find a way to break through these fixtures to access the water inside. The roots continue to grow, absorbing water and nutrients from your pipes. Eventually, the roots will become so thick and tangled that they can block your pipes entirely.

Heavy Rainfall

Sometimes, heavy rainfall can cause sewage to back up into your home. If they city’s draining systems can’t withstand the sudden onset of water, the water will find any available drain and use it as an escape hatch.

Additionally, if your home’s drainage system and landscaping don’t drain water away from your home properly, you are more likely to experience backups during a storm.

Signs of Sewage Backup

Even if you know what causes a sewage backup, identifying one can be difficult. Take the following steps to determine if you have a backup in your home:

  • Look for sludge or sediment in your tub, shower, or sinks.
  • Pay attention to foul odors. You’ll typically smell sewage from the pipes in your tub, shower, or sinks.
  • Run your plumbing fixtures. Watch out for water that backs up after you flush your toilet or run water down your sinks.

If you notice any of these signs, contact a plumber as soon as possible. He or she can work with your city’s public works department to determine if the main is blocked or if your sewer line needs rodding from your home to the street.

Effects of Sewage Backup

Because sewage backup contains human waste, exposure to raw sewage can have adverse side effects. If you’re exposed to the bacteria for too long, you could develop health issues.

If you’ve been exposed to sewage backup and you experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, visit a health care professional immediately.

Backup Classification

When wastewater backs up into your home, it can be classified into one of two categories. The type of sewage backup that flows into your home determines the kind of action you should take to get rid of it.

Greywater

Greywater is a form of unsanitary, contaminated water that can make humans sick if they consume it. You’ll experience greywater backups if your sink, dishwasher, or washing machine overflows. The water doesn’t contain feces or pathogens, but if left alone for 48 hours, greywater degrades into blackwater as bacteria and pathogens grow in the stagnant water.

Blackwater

Blackwater, on the other hand, is much more toxic to humans. This kind of backup contains feces, urine, and other pathogens that could cause a human to become ill. Blackwater usually backs up from the toilet, but it can also back-flow through your other drain pipes. Additionally, any water in your home that sits stagnant for more than five days is considered blackwater.

Ways to Remedy Sewage Backup

If you ever experience a sewage backup in your home, contact a plumber immediately. Once your plumber arrives, he or she will inspect your home’s drainage system to find the source of the problem. Then, he or she will make the necessary repairs and provide you with tips to prevent a backup in the future.

How to Identify 5 Common Drain Problems

Written by Jim Dhamer Plumbing on . Posted in Plumbing Tips

Think of the different plumbing features in your home. Drains are used daily to flush all kinds of contaminants and waste products into the sewer system. 

Below, you’ll find a list of common drain problems you may encounter. Keep in mind that if you don’t have any experience with plumbing, you should leave the repairs to someone with the proper knowledge and tools.  Your licensed plumber can do a thorough job.

The Drain Slows or Backs Up Due to Fat, Oil, and Grease Buildup

You might think that when oils and liquid fats from meats go down the drain, they flush all the way out with running water and end up at the treatment plant with everything else. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. When fats and oils go down the drain, the cool pipes around them turn them back into a solid, and they then line the sides of the pipe.

As more grease goes down the drain, the more the buildup coats the inside of the pipe until eventually it forms a total blockage. Even if you pour boiling water down the drain, it might not do enough to defeat the grease plug.

The Drain Slows or Backs Up Due to Hair Buildup

Hair gets stuck around tiny imperfections in the pipe’s interior. It also sticks in shampoo, scented oils, and any other products that may go down the drain.

Tree Roots Grow Into Your Drainage System Down the Line

Tree roots follow moisture through the soil. So it should come as little surprise that they would grow towards your pipes, especially if your plumbing has tiny flaws that let little droplets leak out. The tree roots will grow towards the moisture and then insert themselves into the pipe’s flaws. As the roots grow, they can cause a rupture in the pipe as well as block the water that passes through it.

Additionally, these roots can catch toilet paper, food waste, hair, and anything else that goes down your drain and create a formidable clog. If that’s the case, you will not be able to solve this drainage problem on your own.  Call your plumber to power rod and/or hydro jet your main sewer drain.

A Sentimental or Monetarily Valuable Item Goes Down the Drain

You don’t want toys, wedding rings, money, or anything else with sentimental or fiscal value going down the drain. But accidents happen.  Your plumber can help you safely take apart your drain pipes to search for your lost valuable, and will reconnect your plumbing system properly and to code.

The Drain Slows or Backs Up Due to Frozen Pipes

When pipes freeze, they don’t burst right away. The water simply sits in the pipe and turns to ice. Any water that comes up behind it exerts pressure. So if you have frozen contents in your home’s drainage system, don’t run any water or put anything in the drain until you’ve had a professional plumber come and help. You may not be able to solve this problem on your own as thawing pipes often reveal many leaks.  Your plumber can repair any leaks or replace the affected pipes.

Keep in mind you can always have our plumber perform regular drain maintenance and we’re here to assist in case of your emergency

CONTACT US

Jim Dhamer
Plumbing and Sewer, Inc.

630-964-2222

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