What about a backed up toilet that seems to have no immediate solution?
Plumbing, like electricity, is something that we all take for granted – until it fails to work like it is supposed to. The timing of its failure can be more than embarrassing. So what can be done to keep your plumbing running (in a good way) all year?
The first thing to do is to keep your drains running freely. The signs that something is wrong are not hard to find, you just need to not ignore them. Thinking that they are problems “that will fix themselves” is the first ingredient in a recipe for disaster.
- First, everyone has experienced a clogged or slow running toilet from time to time. Picking up a plunger and clearing the drain is simple. Some do-it-yourselfers may use a snake when necessary for the more stubborn blockages. But if you are consistently experiencing a slow draining toilet it is time to call a plumber to see if there is something going on beyond the obvious.
- Like a slow running toilet, slow running drains are another indicator there may be bigger problems. While plumbers caution homeowners to be careful what they put down their drains – like avoiding greasy fluids – many homeowners think that because they use a detergent that breaks down grease rinsing it down the drain is okay. But as the grease is allowed to build up over time, it sticks to the walls of the drain and sewer pipe, reducing the flow rate.
Drain cleaners and even snakes can only do so much. The time to act is before a plumber is needed to hydro jet your drain or sewer lines.
- Drains are supposed to rid your home of waste water, whether it is from cooking or cleaning. Food and soapy water smell good for a reason. When you begin to notice that your home starts having unpleasant odors, besides making sure the garbage is taken out check to see if the source of the odor is your drains. Sometimes there may be food collected in the trap in your sink. (Other names for the trap are the U-pipe or the P-trap.) You may or may not be able to clear the trap by yourself.
- l Finally, listen for gurgling sounds or watch for bubbles. Gurgling sounds are likely to come from the drains, while the bubbles are more likely to be seen in the toilet. A partially blocked drain will not be able to handle the normal flow of water and air comes up from the main drain, resulting in the gurgling sound. The same applies to the bubbles that are seen when your toilet is slow to drain, though may not be as noisy. The last thing you want is for toilet waste water to overflow the bowl and end up on your bathroom floor.
In all these situations there are basic steps you can take before calling a plumber:
- Run some hot water down the drain or flush the toilet again to see if that fixes the problem
- For drains, use a general drain cleaner to see if that improves the flow
- Use a plunger or snake to try and clear the drain
If these attempts fail it is time to call a professional. Remember, most homes have a single sewer line where all the drains lead. A problem with that single line will affect every drain and toilet in your home. What appears to be a simple problem may have a bigger problem underlying it. As they say, don’t get caught with your pants down.