DIY – Emergency Plumbing Solutions

An emergency plumbing situation can occur at anytime of any day. Knowing how to fix urgent plumbing problems in advance is the best way to come up with solutions at the time of an emergency. Knowing how to spot potential plumbing problems can also help you determine whether you will be facing an emergency plumbing situation in the near future. Learn how to prepare and temporarily fix your next emergency plumbing crisis until the professionals are called in.

 

What You Need On Hand:

You never know what emergency plumbing situation you will find yourself in, which is why you must always stay prepared and have these items ready to go in case you spring a leak (or any other plumbing emergency mishap occurs).

  • Use a bucket as your ‘emergency plumbing tool holder.’ If you spring a leak mid-project, it will catch the water and help keep your home nice and dry.
  • Keep heavy duty paper towels or old towels/rags in your ‘emergency plumbing tool kit’ to clean up whatever your bucket doesn’t catch or water from small leaks.
  • Wrenches, wrenches, wrenches – wrenches are an essential tool of any plumber. A pair of medium sized slip joint pliers and an adjustable wrench should cover most jobs. However, it never hurts to have other various sized wrenches ready to go as well.
  • A multi-bit screwdriver is the perfect ‘emergency plumbing tool.’ It is versatile and can help reduce the number of tools in your ‘emergency plumbing tool kit.’
  • Keep a forced cup plunger and a regular plunger handy. Each plunger has its own specific use and provides extra unclogging power!
  • Duct tape and/or leak sealing tape can help out in a plumbing emergency until a permanent fix can be made.
  • Wire coat hangers are a household item that every amateur plumber should keep handy.

Emergency Tips

When it comes to emergency plumbing situations it’s not enough to just have the right tools to take on the job, you have to know a thing or two about how to handle the situation too. These tips will prepare you for your next emergency plumbing crisis.

  • If a pipe bursts, turn off the water supply. While you wait for a professional to arrive and remedy the situation, drain the entire system by turning on all the cold water taps in the house and flushing the toilets. Next, turn your water heater off and turn on all the hot water taps and drain them out as well. When there is no more running tap water, the leak will stop.
  • Use two wrenches at once, turning in opposite directions. This absorbs the stress from the plumbing when tightening or loosening a plumbing fitting.
  • If the water in a clogged toilet keeps rising every time you flush, take a wire coat hanger and bend it into a curved shape and try to remove the blockage inside the toilet bowl. Once you have loosened the blockage, try using a forced cup plunger to fully unclog the toilet. Unclogging a toilet with rising water can be messy job. Be sure to use old towels and rags on the floor to keep the bathroom from getting wet and slippery.
  • Use duct tape or pipe sealing tape to pull together a crack in a pipe. The tape will reduce the leak as a temporary solution.
  • When unclogging the sink or garbage disposal in the kitchen, make sure to turn off the switch for the disposal before trying to unclog or clean it. First, use a long spoon handle or tongs to clean out the fragments of leftovers. Make sure to never put your hands inside the disposal. Next, use two plungers to unclog the sink/disposal. Using a second plunger to cover the other drain will allow you to get the most force. After cleaning the disposal out and plunging the drain, turn on the hot water, turn the power on again and turn on cold water to check if the clog has been cleaned out.

These tips will help to sustain the damage until a professional plumber can be called in to make the repairs.

 

We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

All About the Plunger

It has saved you many times. It always has your back. When there is nobody to turn to, it can always be the hero in your war with the toilet (and kitchen sink! How to unplug your kitchen sink using a plunger). Everyone has one but most people don’t really know it’s story, and a lot don’t know the proper way to yield one.

Best All-Around

The plunger has a very shady past. The exact inventor and invention date are not known. What is known is that the science behind what makes plungers effective is utilized by many different industries, like in music, auto care and healthcare. It’s effectiveness and usefulness has made it one of the most versatile household instruments around today.

They’re Diverse

There area couple different types of plungers. The classic version is known as the cup plunger. This type is best for sinks, bathtubs and showers. There is also the toilet plunger, which has an additional flap on the inside. The accordion plunger is made of plastic, has a smaller cup and several layers to get maximum suction. The Taze plunger is for more commercial-style clogs, and has a composition that is a little more complicated.

Treat it Well

Make sure to clean your plunger after each use. This will disinfect the germs that are located on the cup and help with potentially bad smells. It is also a good idea to invest in a form of storage for your plunger if it does not come with one. This will aid you in not having to search for it in your time of need as well as protect it from damages.

Game Plan

Before the battle starts, make sure you choose to correct weapon. Figure out the best plunger for your needs. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts, plug all drains around you. This includes showers and sinks. Another expert tip is to spread petroleum jelly on the outside of the plunger. Now it’s time to rock and roll. Be sure to stretch and warm up, and get your mind right. After you ensure the entire rim of the cup is touching the toilet and surrounding the hole, start plunging as linear as possible. Alter the speed of force you use for about 30 seconds, and then try again. If this doesn’t get the job done, it may be time to call in Eastern Plumbing for some backup.

Liquid Drain Cleaners – Risks

When it comes to unclogging your drains, liquid drain cleaners are easiest. They are effective and time efficient. But while they save time now, they will cost you later. After several uses, liquid chemical drain cleaners can have damaging effects to you and your plumbing.

Dangers of Chemical Cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners can have negative effects on your drains and health. Each liquid cleaner is different in its chemical makeup and its subsequent effects.

Drains

Because liquid chemical cleaners are designed to dissolve things like hair and fingernails, they can cause damage to unwanted things as well. If they get on surrounding wood or countertops, this could result in damages. Damage to your pipes themselves can also be a side effect. The chemicals in the cleaner can eat away at the pipes and result in corrosion and weakening. The bigger the clog the greater the effects due to the length of time the chemicals are stagnant and “eating.” So while the clog may have been fixed, over time this could lead to a much bigger problem down the road.

Health

Due to the harmful effects chemical drain cleaners have on steel pipes, it is not farfetched to realize they can have harmful effects on you as well. The same chemicals that can eat away at clogs and pipes can have detrimental effects on your skin, clothes and anything it touches. The main ingredient in most chemical drain cleaners is either sodium hydroxide or sulphuric acid. Both of these are highly toxic and can lead to severe health problems if ingested by swallowing or breathing. If the chemicals get on your skin or eyes, burns and blindness can occur.

There can also be very harmful effects if chemical drain cleaners mix with other household chemicals. This can happen with something already poured down the drain or something nearby. When this happens, there is a chance of an explosive reaction that can cause any number of issues and concerns.

Better Alternatives

Instead of risking the health of your pipes and body, choose one of the alternatives to liquid chemical drain cleaners.

Enzyme Cleaners

Enzyme drain cleaners are safer liquid drain cleaners that do not contain harmful chemicals. These cleaners contain bacteria that interact with the clogs and break them down. These concentrated enzymes also kill the organic matter that can cause bad odor.  While these might be slower than chemical cleaners, they are safer to pipes and you.

Another advantage of enzyme cleaners is that they are biodegradable and environmentally-friendly. Once these bacteria are sprayed or poured, they activate and start to multiply. After the job is done, these bacteria die and are completely safe for the environment.

Physical De-Cloggers

Unclogging your drain physically yourself is much safer than chemical drain cleaners. There are no chemicals involved or harmful side effects. This can be done with a plunger, drain snake or physically removing the pipe among other methods. This eliminates the risk of pouring something down the drain.

Contact a Professional

Clogged drains can be a very tricky problem. The best solution is to enlist the help of a professional. Contact Eastern Plumbing today and we’ll get you up and running normally.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than what I think it needs to be, what temperature should it be set on?

The standard temperature manufacturers’ use when pre-setting hot water heaters at the factory is typically 120°F. This is a sufficient temperature for most households; however you can adjust the temperature to meet your needs. Both thermostats should be set to the same temperature. Keep in mind that hot water also helps in minimizing the growth of bacteria. Consult Eastern Plumbing for the recommended temperatures for your particular needs.

NOTE: You should turn off the electricity to the water heater before performing any maintenance. There may be exposed wires behind the panels which could result in shock.

What could the rumbling sound I hear coming from the water heater be?

Rumbling sounds can be an indication that sediment has built up on the bottom of the water heater. Water may become trapped in the sediment and begin to boil. If this is happening, the water heater is not operating efficiently and the sediment isn’t allowing the heat to transfer to the water in the tank. You can try draining a few gallons of water off the bottom of the tank. Water heaters should be drained on an annual basis to remove sediment. Contact Eastern Plumbing if you require maintenance or have questions about your hot water heater.

WARNING: Hot water is dangerous. Discharge the water into a floor drain, laundry tub or bathtub. Hot water will kill your grass if allowed to run on your lawn. Turn off power to water heater prior to draining.

What happens when roots get inside drain lines?

Roots from shrubs and trees can completely fill a pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. These root masses quickly become clogged with toilet tissue, grease and other debris flowing from your home to the main sewer, resulting in reduced flow, slow running drains and in most cases a complete blockage. Once roots have entered the pipe, they continue to grow and expand, exerting considerable pressure at the crack or joint. This increased pressure often breaks the pipe and may result in total collapse, which requires repair or replacement. Some pipe materials are more susceptible to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. PVC pipe has fewer joints and when properly installed is almost 100% effective against root penetrations. Allow Eastern Plumbing to use state-of-the-art inline drain cameras to view and record your drain problems.

What is the white substance around my shower head and faucet?

The unsightly buildup is mineral deposits. To remove these deposits from the shower head, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the shower head and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight. A professional at Eastern Plumbing can explain water softening and conditioning options available to you.

How can I eliminate the odor coming from my garbage disposal?

This is a common plumbing troubleshooting question. Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposal. To eliminate odors, place ice cubes and lemon peels or orange peels in the disposal, and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposal while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away.

What is the recommendation for replacing a toilet in my home?

When considering any new fixture for your home, we recommend that you choose a fixture made by one of the major manufacturers. Poor mounting and deteriorating rings and seals may cause leaks which can cause costly damage to your home. Keep in mind that many of the new toilets conform to new government standards that require they use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush which can save you money on your water and sewer bills. If you need help with replacing a toilet in your home, contact Eastern Plumbing.

What could be the cause of my recent high water bills?

You may want to check to see if a toilet is leaking. Check the water level in the tank to see if water is overflowing into the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank which has a small tube connected to it. In the event water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Periodic maintenance by an Eastern Plumbing professional will ensure proper operation.

I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking noises.

Hammering pipes can be cause by various things within your piping system. Loose fittings, toilet fill valves and the absence of an expansion tank on your water heater a just a few things which can cause pipes to hammer. If are hearing noises from your water pipes, contact Eastern Plumbing to get a professional diagnosis.

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

First, you can try using a plunger. Second, you can remove the trap and remove any debris. Third, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet. There are also special enzyme-based drain openers, which may help dissolve buildup in pipes in older homes. You can also call the professionals at Eastern Plumbing and we’d be happy to help.

My Toilet ‘Burps’! What’s Going On?

The common issue of drains that gurgle or burp is caused by inability of air to get into or out of the drainage system. All plumbing fixtures require a p-trap, to keep sewer gas from entering the home. The drainage system requires vents to allow air to move freely through the drainage system. If the vent line becomes obstructed, the air will compress within the system and then push through the p-trap which causes the gurgling or burping sounds. If you are having this problem, please call Eastern Pluming to determine proper solutions.

8 Essential Plumbing Tools You Shouldn’t Live Without

Plumbing tools are good to have on hand when a sink clogs or a toilet overflows on the weekends, holidays or before a dinner party. For big problems, such as a burst pipe, shut off your water and contact Eastern Plumbing. DIY plumbing requires not only the proper skills, but also the right equipment, to ensure the project is done well. You’ll be able to fix everyday annoyances if you have these essential plumbing tools at your disposal.

1. Plunger.

No home should be without this handy tool. There are several types of plungers and each of them is used for a specific fixture. The cup plunger is used to clear clogs in tubs, showers and sinks. The flange plunger is used to clear toilet clogs.

2. Pipe Wrench.

This tool is useful when it comes to something threaded, such as an iron pipe. It delivers a strong grip and leverage, which allows you to loosen or tighten fixtures, pipes, joints and plumbing parts. Buy two pipe wrenches–one for gripping and holding, one for turning.

3. Sink Snake.

Also referred to as a sink auger, this tool is a must-have when getting rid of clogs in your sink or tub drain. It breaks down solid materials into smaller pieces so you can grab them out of the pipes.

4. Toilet Auger.

This tool is also known as the water closet augur or closet auger. It works like a sink auger only that it’s specifically designed for toilets. Toilet augers allow people to break up clogs and retrieve obstructions that are causing blockages.

5. Faucet Packing and Washers.

Having faucet packing and washers on hand will save you a lot of hassle during plumbing emergencies that involve your faucets. Use these tools when your kitchen tap leaks or your tub faucet is loose.

6. Screw Drivers.

Most likely, you already have one of these tools lying around the house. Various shapes and sizes are preferred because there are so many different types of screws to remove when doing plumbing repairs.

7. Hacksaw.

This versatile saw is used to cut through metal pipe, hardware, screws, nuts and bolts and plastic pipe. Make sure the blade is tense in the frame for tough cuts, and be sure to keep extra blades on hand. Consider more than one type of saw if possible, such as one large and one small, for different repairs.

8. Caulking gun.

A caulking gun has a metal frame and a trigger that holds and applies caulk to seal seams around the edges of tubs and sinks. Caulk can be made of silicone or latex, and is used to bond a wide-range of materials.