Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Prevent Clogged Roof Drains

Sometimes leaky roofs aren't the roof itself but rather a clogged roof drain. Roof drains clog over time with debris that causes a back-up which may eventually flow into the flashing or your home's attic. From there, it's just a short time until you notice water leaking through your ceiling or down the wall.

The truth is many homeowners aren't even aware their roof has a drain! Regular maintenance of these drains is just as important as the ones inside your home. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Cleaning vs Replacement

Sometimes roof drains just need a proper cleaning, although sometimes the problem is just age. When these drains get old, a replacement is necessary to stop the problem for good. Only a professional plumber can tell you if the drain is simply clogged and needs cleaning or if it's time to replace it.

Inspecting the Drain

To determine if there's a clog -- which may be due to debris or small nests -- an inspection is the first step. Debris and leaves must be cleaned away and the cover needs to be removed. You can often use a flashlight to see if there's any obvious problem.

Snaking or Hosing the Drain

If there is a clog, a plumber will use a snake to clear away most of it. The snake is carefully fed into the drain until the clog is freed. In some cases, pressurized water can also clear the clog and flush it away. It's possible to snake a hose into the drain until it's resting right against the clog and then turn it on at full power.

Pipe Brushes

Sometimes pipe brushes are used instead to clear away a clog. The pipe brush may be run into the drain until it reaches the clog and then pushed until the clog is finally dislodged.

Cleaning your roof drain should be done regularly to prevent problems, especially if you have leaves falling onto your roof fairly often. Fall and winter are the most important times to perform maintenance as ice and snow can also clog or block the drian.

The moral of the story is this: if you have a leak in your roof, call a Riverside plumber first, not a roofing contractor. A plumber will pinpoint the problem and determine if the drain has become clogged over time and requires cleaning or replacement or if the problem is really your roof.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

7 Things You Shouldn't Flush Down Your Toilet

While toddlers flushing cell phones and cameras down the toilet is a big concern for many parents, those aren't the only things you should worry about ending up in your toilet. To keep your service calls from a plumber to a minimum, make sure you avoid flushing these things down the toilet.

1. Medication

Many people think flushing expired OTC and prescription drugs is a safe way to dispose of medication but all it's doing is dumping chemicals into the water system. Water treatment plants can't remove these chemicals from the water and the EPA advises that you get rid of medication by sealing it in a bag and throwing it in your trash.

2. Cat Litter

Kitty litter is a major cause of clogged pipes and even the flushable kind can cause problems. Toxoplasmosis, a parasite that's found in cat waste, can also hurt marine life and should stay out of the water system.

3. Tissues and Paper Towels

While tissues may seem just like toilet paper, they will not disolve like toilet paper does. The same goes with paper towels: every time to flush a paper towel down the drain, you're taking a risk that you'll end up with a clogged pipe and need to call a Corona plumber to come out to your house.

4. Cigarette Butts

While cigarette butts won't necessarily clog your pipes, they do introduce dangerous chemicals into the water system. Since sewage is treated and then recycled, it's important to keep public water as free of chemicals as possible.

5. Dental Floss

Dental floss is not biodegradable and it can easily wrap itself around toilet paper, which can then cause a serious clog in your pipes.

6. Food

If you don't want raw sewage to overflow into your home or onto the street, avoid flushing any food down the toilet, particularly food that's high in fat, grease or oils.

7. Hair

Hair is one of the most effective drain clogging agents and attracts oil and grease, eventually causing a major blockage.

Tips for Keeping Your Toilet Clog-Free

Do you store extra toilet paper, matchbooks or other odds and ends above your toilet bowl? If so, think about moving them to avoid anything from accidently getting flushed down the toilet. Here are some more things to keep in mind from a professional plumber in Corona:

  • Keep your toilet lid down! This is the best way to make sure unwanted items don't end up in the toilet.
  • While flushable wipes are designed to be fllushed, they can still clog toilets and they're made from thicker material than toilet paper.
  • In-tank toilet cleaners are made with a substance that may degrade the mechanisms in your toilet so consider using a natural product or just old-fashioned scrubbing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

How Often Does My Septic Tank Need to Be Cleaned?

Regular maintenance is most important thing you can do to keep your septic tank working well for as long as possible. Unfortunately, many homeowners with septic tanks believe they don't need to pump out the tank or do anything, really, as long as the system seems to be working well. The truth is this can be a very costly mistake.

Over time, solid material will settle to the bottom, creating a layer of sludge, while lightweight material floats to the top as scum. A well-designed septic tank can store up to five years of sludge. If it's allowed to accumulate past this point, sewage doesn't have any room to settle before it leaves the tank and more solid waste will escape into your soil absorption system (SAS). When this becomes severely clogged, it can't absorb liquid as it enters your septic tank and your plumbing will back up and wastewater will start to come to the surface.

Reasons to Maintain Your Septic System

Maintaining your septic system is one of the biggest ways to save money as a homeowner as a failing septic system becomes very expensive to repair or replace and this is usually due to poor maintenance. Septic systems that become unusable or improperly maintained can even be a liability or lower your home's value. Maintenance also protects your health and the environment.

It's important to hire a professional Fontana plumber to regularly pump the septic tank. Ideally, this should be done every 3 years if you don't have a garbage disposal and every year if you do. Once you've hired a plumber, they'll need to send a copy of their report to your local Board of Health in most cases.

Other Tips:

  • Avoid adding products to your septic tank that claim to reduce the bacteria as septic tanks naturally breed bacteria. The best thing to do is have the tank professionally cleaned by a plumber as these products simply aren't effective in the long-run.
  • The worst thing to put into your septic tank is grease, which can cause clogs in your sewer pipes.
  • Have your septic system evaluated every year to avoid problems down the line.
  • Don't divert a basement sump pump or roof drain into your septic system as you want to put as little water into it as possible.
  • The more often you use your garbage disposal, the more often your tank needs to be pumped. Limit the use of your garbage disposal if possible.

Image: Sustainable Sanitation/Flickr