Whether you’re renting your home, or you own it, one issue you are bound to have is the dreaded “slow drain.” Thankfully, this problem is typically nothing too serious, and you should be able to fix it on your own. Before you try to fix it, you should have a clear understanding of how your sink works and what is the probable cause for your sink or shower draining slowly. Once you understand the basics, there are a few key tricks that can help you unclog your drain, DIY style.

slow drain fixesWhat Type of Drain is Slow?

As previously stated, knowing how to fix your slow drain depends on two things:

  1. Which drain is slow?
  2. What are the common causes for that particular drain?

After those two things are figured out, fixing your drain should be a breeze.

Bathroom Drain

slow tub drainIf your shower or bath tub drain is not working as well as it use to, the most common reason for this is hair. It doesn’t matter if you have short or long hair, if you give it enough time, the hair will build up in the pop-up assembly of your shower/tub drain and cause it to drain much slower than normal. If this isn’t taken care of, your hair will soon trap other sorts of debris which will eventually lead your drain not draining all together.

Kitchen Drain

slow kitchen drainThe most common reason your kitchen sink would not be draining will be food related. One of the biggest culprits is grease that gets trapped either in the P-trap, which is the curved section of your drainpipe that is located under your kitchen sink, or the drain basket itself. Food itself can get stuck in the bottom of the P-trap and hinder waterflow. Not only will this problem be inconvenient, but it can also get smelly.

Other Common Drain Problems

Its important to know that just because your drain is draining slow, doesn’t mean that the problem is right at the surface. You should also be well informed about how your venting and sewer lines function, and what the signs are of a malfunction.

Sewer Lines

sewer line clogsThese are the main lines that will carry your household waste water and sewage away. One of the biggest things that can mess up your sewer lines is tree roots. The tree roots are attracted to all the nutrients that flow through these lines, and the roots will find any weak points, cracks or holes in your sewer lines. They will push their way into the pipes, rendering them useless. Its also important to know how old your pipelines are, because another common cause for sewer line problems is that they have begun to collapse or deteriorate. One big red flag that is indicative of a sewer line problem is if your toilet constantly clogs or flushes slowly.

Vents

vent stacksVent stacks are an important part of your plumbing because they allow air into your pipelines, reducing the vacuum effect that would restrict water flow. These stacks are in your bathroom and kitchen areas around your house. Typically, vent stacks are the pipes that are protruding through your roof. The most common reason they get clogged is by leaves, sticks and sometimes bird nests.

DIY Fixes

There are several things that you can try before calling in a professional to come and fix it for you. Just remember to clear out any standing water in your sink or tub before you try to move the blockage, as the water will get in your way.

Boiling Hot Waterboiling water for clogs

This is going to be your cheapest way to try and fix your draining problem. With this method, all you have to do is boil some water on your stove, make sure that there is little to now standing water in your way, pour the hot water into your sink and wait. You may have to repeat this process, but if the clog is small enough, this should move the clog along and out of the way.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

slow drain clogsFor this method, you poor about a cup of baking soda into your drain.  Next, pour the same amount of either white or apple cider vinegar down the drain. This combination will bubble initially, then it will calm down. Once this happens, put the stopper in your drain and wait for about 15 minutes. After that time frame, run hot water to see if this cleared the clog.

 

Plunger

slow drainsIt is a good idea to invest in a designated sink plunger, if you can’t fix the clogs with the previous methods. You can use a sink plunger on either a single or double sink. If you have a double sink, first seal off the second side with either a wet cloth or a stopper. To properly plunge your sink, you will need fill you sink up with enough water to cover the bell of you plunger. Then all you must do is plunge it like you would a toilet. If this works, you should hear the suction clear the clog, remove your plunger and run warm water for a few minutes.

Drain Snake

clogged drainsThis tool, also called an auger or plumber’s snake, can clear the clogs that might be stuck deeper in the system. You simply stick this down the top of your drain until you feel something stop it, which is probably the clog.  Then you twist it around until you feel the obstruction loosen. If the clog is even deeper, you will have to take apart your drainpipe and P-trap.

Conclusion

While DIY fixes save money, they do not always work out. If your DIY fails or if you just do not have the time to track down and fix the slow drain issue, we can help. Contact us today. We can help you get your drains flowing smoothly in no time!

Your kitchen and bathroom sinks swallow a lot of things. Sadly, some of that stuff doesn’t always go down well. Even top-of-the-line, well-installed plumbing requires cleaning from time to time.  A clean drain reduces stress from having backed up water in your sink or tub. It also prevents build-up of damaging residue in your pipes. Depending on what type of things normally go down your drains, you may need to clean and unclog them more often. But, don’t panic! Whether your drain is clogged or just needs freshening, we’re here to help with this handy list of 5 steps to a clean drain.

Supplies

If your drain is clogged, you’ll find these tools handy:

 Plunger

Bucket or large bowl

Rubber gloves

Safety goggles

Pipe wrench

Hand auger

Small plastic barbed drain-cleaning tool

For cleaning the drain, you’ll need:

White vinegar

Baking soda

Hot water

Biological or environmentally-friendly drain cleaner

Steps to unclog your drain

1.      Always start with your plunger

Yep, you can use a plunger in your sink. Just be sure it’s not the one you use in the toilet! Fill the clogged sink with enough water to cover the drain and the bottom of the sink. Press the plunger tightly over the drain. Once you have a secure seal, pump the plunger several times to dislodge the clog. If you have a double-sided sink or your sink has an overflow hole, plugging the extra drain or overflow opening will help create more pressure in the pipe as you pump the plunger.

2.     Try the small plastic barbed drain-cleaning tool

If the plunger doesn’t work, the next thing to use is one of these nifty drain-cleaning tools. You can find these handy little gadgets in hardware stores and in the hardware departments of places like Walmart and Target. They are inexpensive and very effective on clogs close to the drain, above the P-trap. Simply remove the drain plug and slide the tool into the drain as far as it will go. When you pull it out, the backward angled barbs pull out hair and other debris that has balled up in your pipe. Steps for unclogging the tub drain are a little different.

At this point, there are a couple more DIY things you can try.

If you are not comfortable using more invasive plumbing tools, now’s the time to call in the professional plumbers.

 

3.      The hand auger

Also known as a plumber’s snake, the hand auger drills a hole through the debris creating the clog in the pipe. This loosens the clog enough that it breaks apart and washes down when you flush the drain with hot water. If you’re not familiar with how to use a hand auger, we like the explanation and photos on this site: Family Handyman

Once your drain is unclogged and water is flowing smoothly again, you can finish up by cleaning and freshening the drain. We recommend the following methods for keeping your drain clean and helping prevent the build-up of residue that could lead to another clog.

4.      White vinegar, baking soda, & hot water

The next step is to pour about ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow the baking soda with white vinegar. Remember those school science volcanoes that erupted? Yep—that was the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. Place a cover over your drain and let the reaction continue for about 15 minutes. Finish by pouring boiling water down the drain as a final rinse. (Note: Some people prefer to use biological or enzymatic, environmentally friendly commercial drain cleaners for this step. These are good choices also and won’t damage your septic system like chemical, corrosive cleaners. Just be sure to follow package directions.)

5.      Clean the disposal

The final step to a clean drain is one most people don’t even think about the disposal as a something that needs to be cleaned. Disposals can be the source of pretty stinky odors, however. Food debris that doesn’t drain properly can lurk around the sides of the disposal floor where it decays. Cleaning your disposal is inexpensive and easy. Here are a couple of our favorite ways to keep the disposal clean and fresh-smelling. DIY fresh disposal and How Bob Vila cleans a disposal.

Choose your favorite method and get that disposal scrubbed!

 

Well, there you have it. Five Steps to a Clean Drain.

Hopefully, you were able to clear the clogs yourself and end up with a beautiful clean drain. If not, remember that using too much force can cause permanent damage to a pipe and lead to much greater expense.

Whether you’re fighting a stubborn clog or just don’t have the time to deal with it yourself, we can help! Give us a call today!

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Owning a dishwasher is heavenly. Most North American households now have one, and they help families save time, water, and money. As our appliances and technology advance, they often become tougher on food stains, but also harsher on our dishware. Some of us have gotten so used to loading a dishwasher, it’s been a long time since we’ve stopped to question what exactly is dishwasher safe anymore. This article is a gentle reminder of what you can use in the dishwasher, to protect your dishwasher and your heavenly appliance.

You really can’t put food caked dishes in there.

Your dishwasher is not a garbage disposal and putting too dense of food in the dishwasher can clog the drain line of the washer and that would require a plumber’s removal. Scrape all the food off of your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. Sauces are okay because they will become liquid enough, but fats and grease will not. Follow the same guidelines you do with your drain, with your dishwasher.

Don’t let paper labels go in the wash.

Labels from jars or on plates and dishware are not safe for the dishwasher for the same reason you can’t put food in there, they can clog the drain line.

Don’t place any glued dishware in the washer.

If once you broke a dish and tried to repair it with glue or an adhesive, this dish is no longer dishwasher safe. The heat can undo the glue or adhesive and wreak havoc inside. To save this dish, you’ll have to wash it by hand and still avoid keeping it in hot soapy water for too long.

Don’t put hollow plastics inside the dishwasher, such as plastic straws.

Unfortunately, putting hollow plastic in the dishwasher can lead to mold growth if water gets inside and stays too long without drying. It’s best to wash these items by hand and make sure they adequately dry out.

Insulated travel mugs should not go in the dishwasher.

Insulated travel mugs should not go in the dishwasher for the same reason hollow straws shouldn’t. They, too, can be penetrated with moisture and promote mold growth.

No wood should be placed inside the dishwasher.

Wooden spoons, cutting boards, and anything made of wood are not permitted for dishwasher use. To keep them in good working condition, you should always wash these types of items by hand and let them dry out quickly in an open air environment. There are even oil products marketed to keep them long standing, this is because they can warp, swell, and crack and lose their protective finishes if placed in the dishwasher.

Any dishes with metallic accents or actual silver flatware should not be washed in a dishwasher.

Because dishes are subjected to bouncing around and clanking together in the dishwasher with the force of the water, you will want to hand wash all these fine dining items to preserve their pristine quality. Just one cycle can ruin a dish with a silver accent.

Cast iron is not dishwasher safe.

Pots and pans made of cast iron need to be cleaned gently and carefully because the very use of them (for cooking) preserves them, and washing them in a harsh dishwasher could strip this coating that protects it.

 

The hard truth about commercial building plumbing maintenance is that it’s far more expensive to repair the water damage associated with a plumbing issue after it’s happened, not to mention the money lost due to having otherwise operating sections of your building under maintenance. If you’ve stumbled upon this article about commercial plumbing maintenance, congratulations! You are one step further from the costly repairs of neglecting to take these preventative measures.

Find Your Plumber BEFORE Your Problem Occurs

There is not only residential and commercial plumbers but even further classifications of plumbers for different types of commercial buildings. There is far more to it than you probably are aware and it would benefit you to have a company you trust come out and tell you what kind of commercial building you are operating in and what kind of plumber you need for routine maintenance and emergencies. Hopefully, this appointment builds a bridge for you to foster an on-going relationship!

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Once you’ve established the kind of building you operate and a relationship with a plumber or plumbers you trust, you should schedule regular maintenance to keep that relationship strong and ensure you’re doing everything you can to avoid any costly plumbing issues and loss of business in the future. Plumbing issues are inevitable due to aging buildings, shifting foundations and inadequate building materials used at different periods of time. Having a regular plumber you trust visit the building and assess your plumbing, will not only catch problems early but improve your future costs by recommending the best new building materials and replacement parts.

Look For Signs

Before you even call your plumber, you can assess your own building by visiting each bathroom and looking for any of the following signs: water temperatures of faucets being too hot, cold or slow to change, frequent clogged toilets or drains, and dripping faucets or other signs of leaking (check under sinks and look for water damage in ceilings). Having a list will streamline your plumber’s visit, possibly save you money and give you a reference point to compare how your plumbing has improved after your plumber works his magic!

Taking care of your plumbing needs before an emergency is of the utmost importance when taking ownership of a commercial building. You’re doing the responsible thing for your business and all those it affects, including employees and customers, by taking these three simple steps to ensure the integrity of your building well into the future!

 

Though mature trees add shade and beauty to landscapes their roots can affect your plumbing. Roots grow into sewer pipes because they contain essential elements for tree growth like oxygen, water, and nutrients. This leads to expensive maintenance costs of the pipes. Tree roots growing on parkways and private property often cause damage to sewer pipes and sanitary sewer backup services. This commonly affects homeowners who have no idea of the potential problems until it is too late to maintain their laterals.

How do Tree Roots Affect Your Plumbing Pipes?

Tree roots usually grow through sewer pipe openings like loose joints and crack in the pipes. These openings release vapor to the cooler soil around the pipe allowing tree roots to grow toward the vapor’s source. Once inside the pipe, roots will grow further in order to reach more moisture and plentiful nutrients. If they are not disturbed, the roots will eventually fully block the pipes with (hair-like) root masses. The masses trap oils, grit (FOGG), grease, tissue paper, household fats, and other material discharged from the residence.

Maintenance of Plumbing Pipes

Homeowners need to do regular maintenance of the sewer pipes to avoid blockage. You can notice problems in the system by checking on the pipes for slow flowing drains. If you hear gurgling noises from the toilet bowls, you should take immediate action because this is one of the first signs of a system with slow-flowing drainage. A complete blockage occurs if no action is taken to remove the blockage or roots.

The continuous growth of roots inside the pipe expands and exerts considerable force at the point of entry. The pressure exerted on the joint and crack can break the pipe and result to the pipe’s total collapse. This structural damage of the pipes due to severe root intrusion is far much worse for it will require full replacement of the system pipes.

Planting along Plumbing Pipes

Homeowners should be able to locate their sewer cleanout pipe and laterals and avoid planting hedges and trees close to the sewer line for easier maintenance and prevent any future damage. To minimize root intrusion, trees should be planted more than 10-feet from the sewer lines. Furthermore, homeowners should select small, slow-growing plant species with root systems that are less aggressive, and replace them before they grow too large than their planting area.

Cleaning Plumbing Pipes

If the blockage is caused by roots in your laterals, you need to clean your sewer laterals regularly using root saws, augers and high-pressure which are very effective in removing the roots. Try to maintain your sewer laterals as much as possible to keep them structurally sound avoiding entry of roots. You can hire a plumber to check on the condition of your sewer lateral and do any repairs if necessary.

If you need your trees cut down you can go to KnoxvillesTreeService.com

How can I find the source of a mysterious bad smell?

Knoxville Smoke Sewer TestingAre you encountering a weird smell in your home? Are you struggling to figure out what that smell is or where it is emanating from? Have you already hired a plumber who has tried to apparently fix something but you are still getting that odd, foul and toxic smell?

In many cases, homeowners don’t realize that what they smell is not gas leak or some odor emanating from somewhere far-off. Plumbers often have a traditional approach, which is limited in its scope, and end up misdiagnosing the problem. When the problem itself is not identified, you can forget about fixing it or getting it fixed. You would end up paying the plumber and you would still long for a solution. Before we talk about the remedy, let us state unequivocally that the smell you cannot explain is harmful so you should not be lenient with your response or any reactionary approach.

Locating the Source of a Foul Smell in House

The source of the smell is your sewer lines and the sewage. You must be aware that sewage emits a gas. This gas should ideally dissipate through the holes in the manholes across the neighborhood and beyond, there are rooftop vents that facilitate the dissipation of such gas which would be beyond the breathable area of your living space and there are many other fixtures within the civic infrastructure for sanitation that take care of this issue. Whenever the sewer gas manages to leak through places where it shouldn’t, especially inside your house, you would have this unexplained smell. The gas is toxic and unhealthy. You should not live amidst it, breathing it in and you shouldn’t delay sewer smoke testing.

The Solution: Sewer Smoke Testing!

There could be a leak in one of your pipes. There may be leaks in your plumbing infrastructure. There can be cracks in the sewer lines, there could be protruding roots of large trees, old pipes may have corroded, there may be other factors causing a leak, vent or crack that would allow the dissipation of the sewer gas. You need to know where this leak is and then you should fix it.

To identify the leaks, exactly where they are, sewer smoke testing is conducted in a restricted or confined area. Harmless smoke is pumped into the sewer lines and experts observe if the smoke leaks or comes out of any place where it is not supposed to. Once the leaks are identified, the problem is explored further to understand its nature, severity and also the cause followed up with an appropriate remedy.

 

How Trees Can Actually Destroy Your Yard

There is no question that trees can add marvelous visual splendor and character to your property. However, there are certain things about trees that you want to be at least a little wary of. By no means are we saying that you can’t enjoy the shade and personality that trees can bring to a property. However, it’s also a good idea to be aware of the potential damage trees can cause.

At Knoxville Plumbing, we want you to be aware of the unseen-until-it’s-too-late damage that trees can wreck upon your property.

How Trees Can Destroy Your Yard

Older buildings in particular can run into a lot of problems with the trees on the property. In particular, we’re talking about what happens with the roots of your trees, as they get older and older. These roots can get deeper and deeper into the earth, until it gets to a point in which the roots are now spreading out through the soil. When this happens, the roots can become entangled with your sewer lines.

This is not something anyone should ever have to deal with. Unfortunately, as the roots become more entangled with the sewer lines, the range of problems becomes more elaborate and increasingly severe. After all, these roots are not going to magically stop growing when they hit your pipes. They will grow right through them. This phenomenon can lead to pipes becoming clogged. In more serious cases, the pipes can actually break. As you can probably guess, broken pipes are not something you really want to deal with.

So while we’re not telling you to chop down and remove all of the trees on your property, you still want to do something to offset potential headaches. New pipes have an excellent chance of being able to stand up to such changes and pressure. However, older pipes that have become weakened through time and the elements may not be able to withstand things. What can you do to deal with this situation?

Your best bet is to get in touch with our experts at Knoxville Plumbing. You can also figure out how old your home is, in order to know how old the pipes are. You should also look for broken pipe symptoms and clogged pipe symptoms, such as bubbling water in the toilet. The smell of sewage in the yard is something else you can look for.

Finally, make sure you call in the experts for replacements or repairs.