How To Prevent Clogged Toilet

Ways to Unclog a Toilet – And Only One Requires a Plunger!

Uh, oh. It’s happened to all of us, but it’s always embarrassing nonetheless. Learn the tricks of how to unclog a toilet and you’ll learn how to do this with minimal mess. You may even get away with it without anyone knowing the clog happened in the first place, which is the goal, right?

1. Create a Volcano in Your Toilet

Remember that model of a volcano you made back in third grade? You combined baking soda and white vinegar, and a foaming substance bubbled out of the top of your fake volcano. Baking soda and vinegar is a marvelous cleaning agent, and when dumped into a clogged toilet, often will break up the clog without you having to do a thing.

This is what you want to do: combine two cups hot water with two cups white vinegar. Pour one cup of baking soda into the clogged toilet, and then chase it with the hot water/vinegar mixture. Leave the volcano mix to do its job, checking in about 30 minutes. In most cases the clog will have come apart, and a simple flush with send it all down the drain. Plus your toilet bowl will be cleaner!

2. Use the Degreasing Power of Dish Detergent to Break Up the Clog

If you hate the smell of vinegar or don’t have enough room in the toilet bowl to do the volcano trick, try this inexpensive and very effective plumbing trick. Pour a half cup of dish detergent (degreasing dish detergent like Dawn works best) into the clogged toilet. Follow this with three to four cups of boiling water. The boiling water and degreasers will break up the clog, sending it right through.

Hint: This is a great way to discreetly unclog a toilet if you ever get stuck with a clogged toilet when you are on a date or at a friend’s house. Look around the bathroom for liquid soap – shampoo or hand soap will do the job almost as well as dish detergent – and dump a liberal amount of liquid soap or shampoo into the toilet bowl. Then follow with hot water from the tap. With any luck, you’ll be able to flush away before anyone suspects anything is awry. Plus the soap helps a little to disguise the smell, which is a plus.

3. Use a Little Petroleum Jelly on the Plunger

Keep a plunger in your home — a durable rubber plunger with a flange works the best. What many people don’t realize is the seal is the key to a plunger working. Just put a little petroleum jelly (Vaseline works well) around the rim of the plunger, press the plunger around the drain so the seal is tight, and add water if the top of the plunger is not submerged (otherwise you won’t get an effective plunge). Plunge until you break up the clog. Add hot water as needed to keep the plunger submerged.

As s side note, for the sake of comfort to guests who use your bathroom, always keep a plunger in every guest bathroom. There are plungers that come with modest and sanitary holders, intended for this very reason. Visitors to your home will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

4. Head to the Hardware Store for a Snake

If the volcano, dish soap, and plunger have all failed, you’ll want to bring out the big guns: the snake.  Talk to someone at the hardware store to ensure you don’t get an industrial grade snake that can do serious damage to your pipes; you want something pretty tame because the cost of plumbing repairs is not low when it comes to damaged pipes.

Feed the flexible end of the snake into the problem area and then twist the snake handle to break up the clog. Don’t force anything; if you hit a blockage that seems immovable, be cautious and try backing out the snake and trying to feed it in again. Be careful not to further impact the problem area, making the clog worse.

Don’t let a Clog Turn into Catastrophe: Camera Inspect your Pipes

It’s hard keeping tabs on everything that runs in your home, especially your plumbing. With how often sinks and toilets are used, something can easily go wrong. Whether that’s a clogged drain, backed up toilet, or a leaking pipe, the upkeep can get overwhelming. Sometimes the problem can’t be seen on the surface or revealed with a plunger. Some plumbing problems run deeper than your drain lines. If you’re consistently struggling with plumbing problems, then it’s time for a camera inspection.

When It’s Time for a Camera Inspection

A camera inspection helps to identify problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean it’s always obvious to tell when you’re due for one. Luckily, there are a few warning signs to look for. Clogs, breakages, and other problems that happen deep within your sewer line can end up with particular results. If your plumbing is due for a camera inspection, here’s what to look out for.

  • Drains that are backing up or draining slowly. A slow drain or a drain that doesn’t function, are both signs that there is something wrong with your sewer line. If you can’t unclog a drain with a plunger or other common household methods, then a camera inspection will help detect the blockage that clogs your plumbing.
  • Leaking under the foundation. Finding a leak underneath your home’s foundation can typically be a sign of a damaged sewer line. Finding the source of the leak, however, can be difficult without digging up the line. A camera inspection might find the source of the problem without accessing the sewer line.
  • Inconsistent water pressure. If there is a leak in your plumbing or sewer line, that can cause a drop in your home’s water pressure. A pipe that leaks inside your home is easy to spot, but a leak in your sewer line is much trickier to spot without a camera inspection. A leaking sewer line left untreated can eventually result in some severe and costly damage and is best inspected and treated by a plumber immediately.
  • You just purchased a new home. If you’re interested in purchasing a new home or have recently bought a new home, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your sewer and plumbing lines. A camera inspection is especially crucial if you’re buying an older home that could be more likely to have sewer problems, such as old pipes or tree root incursion.

What are the signs that you have a main sewer line clog?

1. Fixtures are clogged

Usually the most obvious sign of a main sewer line clog is when multiple drains are backed up at the same time. The first drain to experience problems will probably be the toilet, but other main-level fixtures like showers or tubs can also be involved, as well. If you suspect a sewer line clog, check the toilet first, following with the other drains in your bathroom.

2. Check the toilets

Toilets have the most direct path from the main drain and they also have the biggest drain pipes out of all of the fixtures, so this is why you can usually spot the problem here first. The toilet will do things like not flush properly, or make strange noises when water is running elsewhere in a sink, tub, or washing machine. This is a sure sign of a main drain problem.

3. Run sink water

Trapped air in the plumbing system can be a sign of sewer line issues. While running the sink water, you may hear the toilet making strange noises or notice the toilet’s water level rising.

4. Turn on the washing machine

A more unexpected sign of a main drain clog will come to light once you run your washing machine. If the water draining from your washing machine causes your toilet to overflow or backs up and starts to come out of shower or tub drains, it’s more than likely a sign the drain is clogged. Turn off the water supply to your home and call our plumbers for service.

How to unclog a sink drain:

Sure, a plunger is great for a clogged toilet, but what about a clogged garbage disposal or drain? James stands by a few genius DIY methods to unclog your drain in no time:

  • A bent wire hanger: Straighten out a regular wire coat hanger as much as possible, then bend one end to create a hook. Push it through the drain and start fishing. Hair and all other buildup should come out. Finally, run hot water to really clear things up.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: Create a mixture of 1/3 cup baking soda and 1/3 cup vinegar. After it starts to fizz, pour the mixture down the drain right away to help break down all the gunk. Let things sit for about an hour (or overnight is even better!) then flush it out with hot water.
  • Boiling water: Boil a bunch of water in a tea kettle then slowly pour it down the drain in two or three stages, letting the hot water work its magic for several seconds between each pour. Of course, make sure your sink is empty first.

What is a Toilet Trap or Trap Way?

Look at the back of your toilet bowl and you will see a curving design in the outline. This is the pathway that the water waste flows when the toilet is flushed. In a working toilet, everything goes through the trap way and empties out into the drainage line.

If the toilet fills with water instead of rushing through the trap there is huge probability something is stuck in the pathway. There will be instances when the clog is in the drain. In these instances, you’ll have water backing up into the tubs and sinks throughout the house.

Removing a clog as soon as possible is necessary for various reasons. One, you don’t want to be inconvenienced by not having use of your toilet. Two, it is unsanitary to leave waste stilling in the bowl. 

It is always a good idea to have a plunger, toilet auger, and plumbing snake in the garage. Before you begin to work on the clog try to determine the source of the clog. There is also the option to call a plumber but before it gets to that try these DIY hacks.

The Benefits Of Solar Water Heaters

How to Care for Your Water Heater

Keep your water heater running efficiently and reliably with this simple maintenance routine. Water heaters work hard for you, providing warm baths, clean clothes, and sparkling pots and pans. So show your water heater some love by following a routine maintenance schedule that will keep it running for its 15-year expected lifetime, and perhaps beyond.

Adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees. You’ll save up to 5% in energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, plus you’ll reduce the risk of scalding.

Always maintain 2 feet of clearance around the appliance unless the manual specifically states otherwise.

Drain about a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove sediment and debris. Turn off the cold water supply, hook up a garden hose to the drain valve, then run into a bucket until the water is clear. If the water remains cloudy, briefly open the water supply valve to stir up remaining sediment, and drain the tank again. This also makes the unit operate more quietly.

Annually test the temperature-pressure relief valve by quickly discharging it two or three times. Following the testing, keep an eye out for small leaks from the valve.

Examine the sacrificial anode rod every three years by loosening the hex head screw and removing it. Replace the rod if:

  • More than 6 inches of the core steel wire is exposed.
  • The rod is less than 1/2 inch thick.
  • The rod is coated with calcium.
  • You can buy a 13-inch zinc-aluminum anode rod for about $16.

Insulate older units with a fiberglass jacket to improve efficiency, being careful to avoid contact with the flue (newer units already are insulated — check your owner’s manual to make sure). Also, insulate the hot and cold water pipes.

When leaving town, adjust the thermostat on gas heaters to “vacation” setting, which maintains the pilot light without heating the water.

The importance of keeping up with you water heater

It is important to maintain the water heater, by scheduling maintenance at a specific time periods. First of all, one of the key factors is the location of the water heater. It should be installed in the right location and set at the right temperature. However, there are some additional steps to be taken to prevent the leakage and any other damages to the heater.

It is mandatory to keep a regular maintenance schedule. This can possibly be every two months, once in every six year and once in every year. The first check should center around observing the plumbing joints for excessive or unusual corrosion. This check applies to only gas powered heaters. All the gas supply parts as well as the water heater should be checked for any flammable material surrounding these parts. The water supply should be checked by turning on a nearby hot water tap and listening for any unusual sounds. If this is running smoothly and the heater is at the right temperature, it is properly managed. It is imperative to drain the heater completely after every two months, to remove any sediments that has accumulated within. Additionally, one should consider replacing the anode rod habitually, after two to three years. A good way of identifying an anode rod in need of replacement, is by looking for large chunks of material coating missing from the main surface indicates.

How Is a Water Heater Tank Flushed?

Flushing a hot water heater tank is not terribly difficult, but it requires a confident hand to do it safely and correctly. Your  plumbers turn off power and fuel to the water heater. Running water from a faucet helps to eliminate some of the water in the tank, as well as decreasing its temperature. The plumbers use the drain valve located at the bottom of the tank to release the water currently in the tank. Plumbers may also fill the tank and drain it a second or even a third time, to help clear the sediment from the tank. The last steps include refilling the tank and resuming access to power and fuel.

Flushing your hot water heater tank is a fairly simple maintenance task that guarantees a good benefit for you and your home. When you flush the tank at least once a year, you keep more hot water for your

Flush the water heater tank once a year

Almost all water heater manufacturers will recommend flushing the water heater tank annually. But draining alone does not flush the water heater!

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct procedure for draining your water heater. For example, this is the instructions for a Bradford White model water heater: How to Flush the Water Heater

  1. On a gas water heater, turn the gas valve to the off position. On an electric water heater, turn the electric off to the heater.
  2. Shut the cold water off to the water heater.
  3. Open a hot water faucet.
  4. Connect a hose to the drain valve on the heater and run to a drain.
  5. Open the drain valve and allow the tank to completely drain.
  6. Turn back on the cold water into the water heater.
  7. Allow the water to run through the water heater and out of the drain valve. Do this for approximately five (5) or ten (10) minutes.
  8. Close the drain valve and allow the tank to refill, keeping the hot water faucet open. When water comes out of the faucet, the tank is full.

Water Heater Maintenance

Today’s water heaters are manufactured to require little or no maintenance, but these maintenance
tips could prolong the life of your water heater:

  • Drain the water heater twice a year to rid it of collected sediment that causes corrosion. This also increases efficiency.
  • Test the pressure-relief valve by lifting the valve’s handle and letting it snap back. This should release a burst of water into the overflow drainpipe. If it doesn’t, install a new valve.
  • Lower the temperature setting on the thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduces damage to the tank caused by overheating.

How To Fix A Clogged Toilet

Tips for Choosing a Toilet

How to choose a toilet — The Basics

Whatever you call it, the bathroom toilet is one of the most important items in your house. While the color and cost matter, how much water it uses and how well it flushes matter more. A good one conserves water and generates enough power to clean the bowl in a single flush. (A bad one can be a 20-year pain in the butt.) This article will help you choose a high-performance dunny that will fit your bathroom, budget and backside. You might want to check out these 50 mind-blowing toilets before settling on what you want.

A new generation of low-flow models

Since 1994, low-flow toilets that use 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less have been the federal standard. The first generation of low-flow toilets sucked—or rather, they didn’t. That’s mostly because manufacturers tweaked a few things to reduce the amount of water used but didn’t change the basic design. You had to flush the darn thing twice (so much for water savings!). But 15 years later, more of these toilets actually work. Manufacturers have made significant design improvements such as larger trap-ways to prevent clogging and larger flush valves that allow a more powerful rush of water to enter the bowl. The following tips will make choosing a new bathroom toilet a lot easier.

How Much Do New Toilets Cost?

You can get a “contractor special” cheap toilets for less than $75. But everything from the working parts to the quality of the glazing will likely be low quality. And don’t expect a powerful flush from cheap toilets. You’re going to use your toilet every day for years, so get a good one. Plan to spend $100 to $500 for a gravity toilet and $225 to $600 for a pressure-assist model.

Shop plumbing supply houses and bathroom showrooms

Home centers offer some but not all of the top-ranked toilets. Click here to check out the latest Home Depot toilets. For the widest selections in makes and models, visit bathroom showrooms and check online retailers.

Consider Future Repair Costs

Custom seats and unusual flush mechanisms add a cool factor, but they’ll cost you time, money and frustration if they ever need replacing. A replacement custom seat, for example, costs more than $100 (if you can even find one years later).

How to Unclog a Toilet

Stuck with a clogged toilet in your bathroom? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Clogged toilets are a common issue that homeowners will face every now and then, and can get frustrating at times. Follow these steps to unclog your toilet like a professional plumber!

Now that you’re prepared, follow these steps:

Step 1: Once you notice the toilet is clogged, prevent the toilet from overflowing with water by turning off the water. Do not try to unclog your toilet by continuously flushing it.

Step 2: Cover the floor around the toilet with old towels or paper towels to prevent a mess

Step 3: Grab your rubber gloves and toilet plunger and insert the plunger in the toilet with the rubber cup covering the trapway hole completely

Step 4: Vigorously pump the handle of the plunger for 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice the water in the bowl will begin to drain. This may take a few tries depending on how clogged the toilet is.

Step 5: Take the plunger out of the toilet and set it aside. Turn the water back on and try flushing the toilet once to see if it is unclogged.

Step 6: If you flush once and the toilet is still clogged, repeat steps 4 and 5 until the toilet is unclogged and the flush is back to normal.

Hacks for Stubborn Clogs

Sometimes a plunger just isn’t enough to fix the even the most stubborn clogs. If you find yourself exhausted after repeatedly using the plunger with no results, have no fear! Try these hacks to help loosen the clog.

Avoiding Future Clogs Starts with a High Performance Toilet

Are you finding that it doesn’t take much to clog your toilet and that you’re constantly busting out the plunger? Make sure that you are only flushing toilet paper. Flushing common toiletries such as facial tissues, cotton swabs, tampons, or dental floss can easily clog your toilet because they do not break down in water. Alternatively, if you own an older toilet, you may want to invest in a new toilet for your bathroom, as some older toilets are engineered with weaker flushing power. American Standard offers a variety of toilets that have high performance flushing technology that can last for years to come. The Champion collection of toilets range from a 1.28 – 1.6 gallons per flush flow rate, and are EPA WaterSense Certified to help conserve water.

Choosing a Toilet

A head-to-head comparison for our readers with nothing to go on.

At first the toilets in our house were merely sluggish. Then they got slower and slower until they didn’t flush at all. But the toilets weren’t clogged. Something was in the sewer line. So I rented a sewer snake, unscrewed the clean-out and fed the hungry snake down the chute. In it went 10 ft., 25 ft., 40 ft. Still, the pipe didn’t drain. As I pondered the problem, my young son stuck his head out the window, his little fists full of his favorite action figures, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Turtles live in the sewer, Daddy,” he said.

Gone are the days when we could flush toys.

After our sewer was deturtled and the attendant blockage removed, our toilets flushed magnificently. What was amazing was that all those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could ever have been flushed down the toilet at all. But those were the days of the 5-gal. flush. With that much water chasing after them, an entire flotilla of Ninja Turtles could’ve been flushed home at once-and might have been

How 1.6-gal. gravity toilets work

Regardless of price or style, all gravity toilets depend on gravity to pull the water-and waste-through the system (drawing right). When the handle is pushed, a flush valve opens, and the water in the tank drains into the bowl, either through rim openings, through the large siphon-jet opening across from the drain at the bottom of the bowl or through a combination of both. The gravity-fed speed of the water pushes the waste through the trap and into the drain

What this country needs is plunger lessons

Complaints against the 1.6-gal. toilet include sluggish or incomplete flushing; a small “water spot,” as the area of the toilet bowl water surface is called; staining; and the need to double-flush or triple-flush. Critics say that if a 1.6-gal. toilet is flushed more than twice, it uses more water than the now illegal 3.5-gal. toilets.

These toilets are here to stay, so we’d better get used to them

Patrick Higgins is a licensed plumber and chairman of the ASME/ ANSI Plumbing Fixture Committee. Higgins has a great deal of personal and professional experience with 1.6-gal. toilets.

What You Need to Know About a Clogged Toilet

What You Need to Know About a Clogged Toilet

We all know it. The horrible feeling after we flush where we see the water rise instead of fall. The panic. Especially if this happens to us while visiting someone else’s home. The awkwardness that follows. It’s a situation some of us have nightmares about. Well, we’ve got some tips to help you and your guests be spared of the embarrassment of a clogged toilet. Believe it or not, most often clogged toilets are the result of poor toilet maintenance and not just a one time… deposit. If you’ve recently experienced the unfortunate circumstance of a clog in your home then it might be time to pay a little more attention to how you’ve been treating your porcelain throne.

What Is a Clogged Toilet Anyway?

A clogged toilet is the backup of toilet water and other contents caused by a blockage in the toilet itself or the drain pipes. Sometimes the blockage is partial and sometimes it’s full. Both can be easy or difficult to repair depending on what they’re composed of. Regardless, they’ll both result in your water having no escape path through which to be flushed.

Why Do Clogs Happen?

There are multiple reasons but most of them lead to one main cause – improper use of the toilet. This means that homeowners are flushing things down the toilet that have horrible repercussions on the pipes and plumbing. Many of the things our plumbers find being flushed down Edmonton toilets are repeated from home to home, so let’s clear up some of the common misconceptions of items that are “safe to flush”!

What NOT to Flush

Time and time again our plumbers encounter clogged toilets due to a build up of the same types of items from home to home

Hair: Your brush is full of hair so you pull it all out of the bristles. You’re left with a handful of locks – you may not even know it, but you’ve reached a critical moment in your toilet’s maintenance. Do you flush it or throw it in the trash? We hope you choose the latter. Numerous homeowners clog up their toilets due to the misconception that hair is safe to flush. It isn’t! Hair is much stronger than you’d expect and when it gathers it creates a net that catches anything solid that makes its way down the pipes of your toilet. Large amounts of hair buildup alone can be dense enough to cause a clogged toilet so it’s very important to avoid sending any hair down your drains. This goes for your shower too (that’s why we recommend using a drain hair catcher in your home’s water fixtures).

How to unblock a toilet

There is never a good time for a toilet to become blocked, so when the worst happens you’ll want to make light work out of a potentially big job.

It’s easy to panic and grab the toilet brush to use as an impromptu plunger, but with water rising and the blockage seemingly immovable, you’ll want to take calm steps towards clearing out the clog with minimal mess and fuss.

What to do when your toilet is blocked

If you have a blocked toilet, the first rule is not to panic – even if you’re in a hurry, guests are arriving any minute, or the estate agent is about to pop round. It can be alarming when your toilet is blocked and nothing’s going down, but these steps will help you get to the bottom of the problem.

Close the flapper: If you’ve flushed once already and nothing’s happening, whatever you do avoid the temptation to flush a second time and risk the nightmare of an over-flowing toilet. The first thing you’ll need to do is lift the lid of your toilet tank and close the toilet flapper with your hand. Don’t worry! The water in the tank is perfectly clean. Look out for a circular drain stopper attached to a chain. This is the flapper. Closing it will prevent more water entering the bowl.

Protect the area: Rather than grabbing frantically at nearby bath towels or unspooling metres of toilet paper, place newspaper or paper towels around the toilet to catch any splashes or drips. It’s also a good idea to open a window or switch on the extractor fan to assist with expelling any unwanted odours that may emerge.