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Home Improvement

As plumbers prepare for their busiest time of year, our resident guru offers insight that could save your system. From grease and garbage disposals to when to run your dishwasher, keep reading for some helpful tips.

Believe it or not, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for residential plumbing companies. Even in a year that’s been anything but normal, it’s still expected that even the households eating amongst themselves will still having a plumbing system running at full speed. 

To help you avoid plumbing catastrophes this holiday, check out these tips:

Get Your Home Ready

If you have time between now and Thanksgiving, give a plumber a call about any current issues you may be experiencing. If they’re able to make it to your house to resolve them before the holiday then you’re less likely to experience major and costly issues.

Keep It Out of the Kitchen

One of the biggest plumbing issues on Thanksgiving is with objects going down a drain that shouldn’t be. Jewelry, watches, toys, silverware, and broken glass are the most common items. But when you limit the amount of activity in the kitchen it’s easier to prevent these things from going down the drain.

Properly Dispose of Grease

It’s never a good idea to dump grease down the drain or garbage disposal. Once it cools down it gets solid and can back up your pipes. The best way to get rid of grease is to pour it in a mason jar or plastic bag and throw it in the trash when you’re done.

Garbage Disposals Aren’t Garbage Bags

Don’t let your garbage disposal become a catch-all for food waste this holiday. There are several foods that can cause plumbing issues and you want to make sure you aren’t tossing things in the garbage disposal that can cause backups or damage to your pipes. These food items include: celery, potato peels, eggshells, bones, coffee grounds, pasta or noodles, and fruit pits.

Don’t Run the Dishwasher

If you’ve been using the garbage disposal a lot, it’s suggested that you hold off on running the dishwasher as they share the same drain. In some instances, if you use your garbage disposal while the dishwasher is running you can end up with food waste in your wash cycle. You will also want to avoid the dishwasher if you’re already having garbage disposal issues as this can cause flooding. 

Don’t Flush Wet Wipes

Wet wipes aren’t made to dissolve like toilet paper, so you want to make sure there aren’t any non-dissolvable wipes being flushed down the toilet. This can cause a serious backup with your sewer system and a mess you don’t want to deal with ever, let alone on a holiday. You also want to make sure you aren’t flushing items like: cotton balls, Q-tips, napkins or facial tissues, feminine products, paper towels, and facial cleaning/makeup remover wipes.

The falling leaves may be pretty but don't let them clog up your drains! Click here for more from our local plumbing expert!

Temperatures are dropping, sweaters are being pulled out of storage, and pumpkin spice is running rampant. Yup, it’s that wonderful time of the year again.

However, the changing of the seasons also means leaves falling from trees and wind blowing debris everywhere! Your outdoor drains become vulnerable to the elements and may suffer blockages that often result in damages.

The question everyone is asking is, “How do I prevent leaves from clogging my drains?”

Every year during the fall, leaves start to turn all sorts of beautiful colors and drop to the ground. Although, the red, yellow and orange leaves make for a beautiful sight, autumn is the worst time of year for clogged outdoor drains. Don’t let decomposing leaves, mulch, and grass clippings wreak havoc on your yard drains this year. Let us help you prepare in advance to keep your outside drain from clogging with leaves.

Everyone know, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Fortunately, drains clogged with leaves are fairly easy to unclog and future clogs are even easier to prevent! But first, let’s start with the basics.

Joe, 1-Tom-Plumber’s drain specialist, using a hydro-jet to unclog an outside drain.

Effects of Clogged Outdoor Drains

A clogged outdoor drain is similar to that of a clogged indoor drain. When an outdoor drain is blocked by leaves, rainwater has nowhere to go, resulting in flooding in your yard.

Some serious blockages may even cause flooding in your own house. Sometimes minor symptoms, such as slow water drainage, can turn into major issues like corrosion, flooding. In extreme cases, sewage backup can lead to costly repairs. It is best to take care of these problems as soon as they arise, and even better to take a preventative approach now as warm summer nights transform into cool autumn evenings.

How to Unclog an Outdoor Drain

Most of the time, unclogging an outdoor drain is just as simple as removing leaves from the grates of the drain. However, in a more serious blockage, leaves may get in between the grates and into the actual drain. In this case, the drain needs to be snaked.

A drain snake uses a metal cable to grind up and push the leaves through the drain. If the snake fails, a special tool, such as a hydro-jet, may be needed to clear the leaves from the drain. A hydro-jet uses 3000-4000 psi water to pressure wash the pipes from the inside. It is so powerful, it will disintegrate any of the leaves it comes in contact with. In the case of one of these serious blockages, it’s best to leave it to a professional drain specialist.

Small leaves, dirt, and debris can gather into the sump (the area beneath the grate) of the drain due of heavy winds. These materials can accumulate over time to form a clog if not removed. In this case, open the grate to see if there is an accumulation of debris directly beneath it. You can use your hands or a small shovel to scoop out the cause of the blocked drain. Make sure. however, that you remove debris in all directions, as some drains can be multi-directional. 

An UltraTech Ultra-Drain Guard will catch all soil, leaves, and silt washed down your drain.

How to Prevent Future Clogs

When it comes to leaves in drains, prevention is always easier than the remediation. During the fall, always be sure to rake leaves and keep them away from your outdoor drains. Regular gutter cleaning can prevent water from backing up and flooding your yard, pushing debris into your yard drain.

Whether you have a storm drain, a yard drain or a basement drain, leaf guards or drain guard may be able to completely prevent your yard drain from clogging.

So keep in mind that as seasons change, and especially when the leaves start falling, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep your outside yard drain from clogging!

Is that slow drain innocent or could it be a sign of a bigger issue? Our plumbing expert offers tips for telling the difference.

Oftentimes the thought of a clogged drain or sewer line brings up toilets and sinks that could use a drain cleaning or plunge. However, that’s not always the case as your drainage pipes run into your main sewer line located on the outside of your home. 

Occasionally these sewer lines will get clogged and even collapsed, leaving you with thousands of dollars in repair costs and no drainage capability until you pay to repair it. However, you can take preventive measures to ensure that you catch a damaged sewer line before it collapses. 

Here are the signs of a collapsed sewer line:

Frequent Backups

When the toilet backs up, your bathroom gets soaked in wastewater. It’s disgusting, and you’re more likely to call a plumber than if the sink or the bathtub backup. The truth is that frequent backups, especially those in the lower regions of your home, are signs your main sewer line is clogged or collapsed.

You’ll likely notice it first in any plumbing you have in the basement as these would be closest to the main sewer line. What happens is the water from all the other drains converges into the main sewer line. If the pipe is collapsed or clogged, then the water has nowhere to go.

It then reverses and uses the path of least resistance. That’s likely the lowest drain in the basement.

If the pipe is collapsed and there is access to the dirt surrounding the pipe, the dirt will slowly absorb the water, and the water recedes. Since the pipe is still collapsed, the water frequently backs up over and over again.

Since the major drainage points are usually in the basement, you may not even notice it, but if it isn’t taken care of it gets worse and worse.

More than One Fixture Clogs

Since all the drainage connects to the main sewer line, when it collapses, it impacts every drain. If the water has nowhere to go, then multiple fixtures can clog or have backups. For example, if you take a bath and the water doesn’t drain quickly, and then your toilet starts bubbling, then it could be water or air rushing into the toilet.

It could also manifest in your bath not draining followed by the toilet, bathroom sink, and other drain outlets. If the collapse is major, then plunging the toilet may not work in removing the water.

Instead, the collapsed pipe either drains the water slowly or not at all. This is an obvious sign, and the plumber uses a camera to view the pipe and find where the clog or collapse occurred. The location is a major factor in the cost of fixing the problem.

There are many causes of the collapse or clog from pipe corrosion, grease, and other detritus collecting in the pipe. Tree roots can also grow into the pipe, breaking it and causing a collapse. Since this happens underground, it can be a tremendous undertaking to replace or repair the pipe.

Your Plumbing Does What It Wants

When you main sewer pipe clogs or collapses, it can impact your drains in surprising and disturbing ways. The drainage pipes in your home are a complicated tapestry of connections, bends, and turns.

When your sewer line clogs, it can cause drains to emit strange sounds, odors, or bubble up. You might think your toilet is haunted, but it’s just air rushing back to the surface.

If your toilet suddenly starts bubbling and does it often, then run the bathroom faucet for a bit and see if continues unabated. You might also notice a gurgling sound coming from the toilet or bathtub drain, which is another clear sign that something isn’t right.

You also might notice an odor coming from the drains. This is because waste and sewage aren’t draining properly from the toilet, so the smell can come rushing back through the other drains. It may not be a full sewage backup into your bathtub, but you’ll smell something isn’t right.

Sewage backups into other drains are not only smelly and disgusting but also a health hazard to your family. Wastewater teems with bacteria and other pollutants that cause illness. The diseases it spreads can be run the gambit from a minor cold to serious health problems.

Your Lawn Is Wet

Since the main sewage line is outside, it can cause changes in your lawn. When a pipe corrodes or breaks from a tree root, it causes dirt from the outside can rush in and water now has access to the outside world.

When you flush or drain water from dishes, etc., it flows down the pipes and into the main sewer line. When the water hits the collapsed area, the surrounding dirt absorbs the water. Slowly over time, the ground saturates, and you’ll notice the lawn above the collapse soaked with water or even have standing puddles.

If you have standing water in your lawn caused by the pipe collapse, the plumber will need to dig down to the collapsed pipe to fix it.

The Grass is Growing

One of the common side effects of having an area of your lawn saturated with water is the grass in that area grows faster than in other areas. It might start out slowly as water seeps to the surface, but eventually, you’ll see a dramatic increase in growth over the collapsed sewer line.

You’ll mow the grass, but that area continues to grow faster. If the water puddles, then the grass in that area can become oversaturated and will die. It takes time for this to happen, so if it gets to the point where the grass dies off or if the area of fast growing grass gets bigger, then it could be a major project to fix the collapsed pipe.

Cincinnati has ranked among the greenest cities in the U.S., based on the’s report. For business owners in the area, it seems that going green needs to be factored into entrepreneurial decisions to be made. So if you’re aiming to make your Cincinnati business more eco-friendly, there are several effective ways that you can do so.
Utilize Local Waste Drop-Off Points
On average, the municipal solid waste generation of the U.S. comes to about nearly 268 million tons and only 67 million of that gets recycled, according to the EPA. A good way for your business to go greener is by being conscientious of how you deal with your business’s waste. For example, if you generate food waste, you can utilize some of Cincinnati’s recycling and compost drop-off points like Queen City Commons, GoZERO, and The Better Bin Compost Company. Doing so ensures that the waste your business generates is handled in an eco-friendly way.
Tap Into Solar Power
Roughly two-thirds of American consumers prefer eco-friendly businesses, according to IBM. To be an eco-friendly business, you must have a reputation for having sustainable practices. One of the best ways to achieve that is by investing in commercial solar panel systems for your enterprise. Not only will they help you lower your energy costs, but it’s an excellent marketing tool to emphasize that your business is a green one. There are solar panel installation companies around Cincinnati, so if you choose to have them installed, you’ll also be helping out local businesses in your area.
Do Regular Self-Audits
To get a firmer idea of your business’s progress towards being greener, doing a regular self-audit would be wise. Some good places to start is to check how much materials your business consumes, and if they’re sourced sustainably. It also helps to check if there are eco-friendly policies applied towards staff like a carpooling scheme or the use of reusable containers and water bottles. A regular self-audit also provides you with insight on which eco-policies are effective and which ones need further tweaking. For a more comprehensive report, you can look around your area to see if there are third-party auditors.
An eco-friendly business isn’t achieved overnight. It is the result of continued conscious choices starting from the administrative level, all the way down to the employees. So take your time and consider which business greening method fits your particular enterprise.

Looking for ways to reduce utility bills while helping to save the planet? Our plumbing expert has tips for cutting your water usage.

This year has been anything but ordinary, and in times when money is tight and resources are running low – you may be looking for ways to lessen your environmental impact. 

One of the ways you can reduce utilities and help to save planet earth is by reducing your water usage. 

Simple changes can add up to big differences that don’t just help to save the planet. Here are a few tips for reducing your water usage:

  1. Turn off the taps. You can save several gallons of water a minute by turning the tap off while you brush your teeth.
  2. Short flush. Around one-third of all water used in the home goes down the toilet. If you have a dual flush system, make sure you use the short flush (usually the smaller button) when possible.
  3. Look for leaks. Regularly check your toilet for leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 26 gallons of water a day!
  4. Take a shower. Taking a bath using much more water than taking a shower. It may seem like the opposite, but once you consider how much water it takes to fill a tub you’ll see that a quick shower can in fact save you water usage. 
  5. Wash a full load. Saving up your dirty clothes until your washing machine is full is better than doing two half loads. If you need to replace your washing machine, always try to buy one that has an A-rating for energy and water consumption.
  6. Use a dishwasher. Filling up a dishwasher until it’s completely full each time will save more water than doing the dishes by hand, even if you’re using a bowl. Similar to your washing machine, it’s always best to look for A-rated appliances.
  7. Only use what you need. If you’re cooking pasta or putting the kettle on…only filling the pan or the kettle with as much water as you need, rather than filling them right to the top, will help you to save water and cut down on electricity bills from using the stove or oven.
  8. Catch rainwater. Around 600 gallons of rainwater falls on the average roof in one year. Install a water butt in your garden to catch rainwater to water your plants with.
  9. Use a trigger hose gun. Watering your plants and borders with a hose can use a lot of water. Installing a trigger gun on the hose makes it easier to turn on and off the water supply, and control the flow.
  10. Stay hydrated. Water is essential to support healthy bodies and minds. Keep a jug handy in the fridge, so you don’t need to run the tap every time you want a drink.

We all know what a water tower is, but do we know what it does? Our plumbing expert shares the basics!

Water towers are a common landmark in every small town and large city. Their use, however, isn’t as commonly known to those who don’t even know they use them. 

Many ask, why do we need to store water hundreds of feet in the water? What does the water do in a water tower? The answer is more simple than you may think. 

Clean, treated water is pumped up into the tower, where it’s stored in a large tank that might hold a million or so gallons—enough water to supply its residents for a day. When water is needed, water pumps utilize the pull of gravity to provide high water pressure. Because water towers work with gravity, they must be taller than the buildings they’re providing water to in order to reach the highest floors of every building.

There’s significant importance to keeping water high off the round as well, as it allows for the use of smaller water pumps. In general, water demand for a city fluctuates throughout the day. Lots of folks are taking showers before work and school, but fewer people are running a lot of water at 3 a.m.

Without a water tower, the municipality would have to buy a water pump big and powerful enough to keep up with peak demand in the mornings, which would then largely go to waste during less busy parts of the day for water usage. Instead, municipalities can buy a pump just large enough to satisfy the region’s average water demand for the day, and let the power of the water tower take over during the times with demand that exceeds the pump’s capabilities. When water demand goes down at night, the pump can replace the water in the tower. Also, if the power goes out and the city’s water pumps fail, the water tower can keep water running smoothly for at least 24 hours.

With today’s technological advancements, it may seem like a water tower is useless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, even Louisville, Kentucky, still uses the water tower it constructed back in 1860. Millions of people in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles also get their water from water towers, which are often located on top of tall buildings so that they can provide high water pressure for residents.