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What to Know When Getting Your Drain Lines Scoped

Sewer line camera scopedOur absolute, number one, most important, plumbing tip for buying a new house or building is to get the sewer line scoped (inspected with a camera) before you buy the house! Do NOT just go with the cheapest guy.  You do not want to get this wrong.  Not everybody knows what they are doing with a camera line.  Sewer line repair or replacement is expensive. A partial replacement may cost $1,500 to $5,000 and some times will cost more. A full, sewer line replacement may be $8,000 to $10,000 or more!

You may think the lines are fine, because you have flushed all the toilets and run all the faucets, but once you move in and you are running the dishwasher, and someone is taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry, and you flush the toilet, and all of a sudden everything is backing up and overflowing.  Never buy a home or commercial building without first getting the sewer line scoped.  Even brand new homes or buildings can have problems.  It could be the line was unknowingly damaged during construction, or not even finished, or it may not be installed on the correct slope for water to drain properly (we have seen all these problems before).

Make sure your plumber shows you the video and make sure he explains what is needed or not needed. Also, you should be able to watch the live feed as the camera is going through your line. If the plumber doesn’t want you watching over his shoulder for something like this, then he is the WRONG plumber. Be pro-active and make sure you get a camera down that sewer line BEFORE you buy the house.

If your plumber recommends sewer line replacement, this is a good time to get a second opinion. Unfortunately, some contractors just want to make a buck and will recommend sewer line replacement when it is not necessary. We have been the plumber to give a second opinion, and often times there was very little or nothing wrong with the line.

KEY POINTS:

  1. If you’re buying a home, make sure you get the drain lines scoped (camera inspected).
  2. Watch the plumber run the camera to ensure you know what’s really there.
  3. And finally, a second opinion is always a good idea and could also save you thousands in plumbing expenses.

4 Tips for Toilet Plunging

1.  The only thing you should ever use a plunger on is a toilet bowl!

Do not use a plunger on any other drain.  The pipes underneath sinks are not made to withstand that kind of pressure.  Just recently, we got a call from a home owner who had a clogged kitchen sink and she used a plunger and cracked the pipe underneath the sink.  Not only that, her drain was still clogged.  Only use a plunger on a toilet.

toilet plunger
2.  Only plunge a toilet if the clog is from organic matter (poop).

If the clog is from non-organic matter, such as cosmetics, sanitary items, jewelry, toys, candles, etcetera, plunging may push the item further along the line, making it more difficult and more expensive to clear the line.

3.  If you know the clog is from organic matter, plunge like you mean it!

You can’t be afraid of getting splashed with “dark” water.  You can always take a shower after the ordeal.  If at first you don’t succeed, try waiting a few hours or all day or night for the water to soften the clog, and then try plunging again. It may be you don’t even need to plunge after 24 hours if the poop has softened.  Flushing alone may work.   The goal in plunging is to create a suction in the piping below.   Slowly push the plunger in and try to create a seal around the hole at the bottom.   Once you create the seal, firmly push back and forth without breaking the seal.   This will loosen the clog from both directions and help break it up to be able to flow through the trapway.   It will also greatly reduce splashing.

4.  When the toilet is clogged and you try flushing and the bowl is full of water, this is the best time to plunge.

If the water level is very low, you may need to add water to the bowl by flushing again. Note: If you have an old toilet and your toilet is not flushing, then be prepared to stop the water flow, because an old toilet flushes with 3 & 1/2 gallons of water.  This could possibly overflow you toilet.  The newer toilets usually do not have this problem if the water level is all the way down.  You can usually flush them once and it won’t overflow.  How do I know if I have an older toilet? If my house was built after 1994 then is it almost certain that you have the lower flow toilet.  Before 1994, you may have the older toilet, unless you have had it replaced.

If all this fails, then it may be time to call in a professional.  Sometimes tools and experience make all the difference.

Prevention:

If someone in your household has a reputation for clogging the toilet, explain to them that they must NOT drop in a full load before flushing. Drop some, then flush.  Drop some more, then flush.  Repeat until finished.

The Top 3 Things Your Plumber Must Have

There are few parts of your home that are more important than the pipes inside of it. In order for that plumbing to be well looked after, you need a plumber that truly knows their job, and cares for every home they enter. How can you find a good plumber? We suggest picking one that has a safe payment strategy, teaches you about the service, and has 24/7 emergency support.

1: A Trustworthy Payment StrategyPlumber accepts Credit Cards

If you want to find a good plumber, you need to find out if they accept credit cards. Never do business with a plumber, or any company charging a large sum, that only accepts cash or checks. If they require a down payment on their services, they can easily make off with the cash without providing quality work. Also, you can rest assured that if you make those large purchases on a credit card, you have consumer protections in place if the contractor fails to deliver. This ensures a burst pipe doesn’t reek havoc on your wallet twice by paying a 2ndplumber after the first one absconded with the funds.

Whenever you’re pulling out the checkbook for a service that you know little about, you tend to feel uneasy. When you find a plumber that accepts your loyal card brand, a huge relief is taken off your shoulders!

2: Talks to You- Not at You

A quality plumbing company wants to educate its customers on the basics of plumbing to avoid the problems next time, if possible. It’s not fun or cost effective to call your plumber just to reset your garbage disposal or clear a toilet pipe blocked with paper towels which could have been easily avoided by only using toilet paper. Green Plumbing has a FAQ page that could save you multiple charges and fees. We do this because our time in business spans over a decade. We truly care about your plumbing education, and hope you only ever need to call us once!

3: 24/7 SupportFriendly Plumber

Have a midnight emergency? Call 719-477-3217 for 24/7 help from our experienced staff. Some situations can’t wait till the morning; we’re here for those ones too. Call that same number during business hours for a free consultationto learn about our competitive pricing and honest work!

 

Tutorial: Install a Toilet in 9 Easy Steps

In this video Green Plumbing will show you how to set and install a toilet in just 9 simple steps. Plumbing parts in this video may differ from what is available in your area. Different toilets may vary slightly in installation.

Step 1:

Turn off the water main if needed. The valve for this is usually in the basement, utility, or laundry room and may be close to your water heater. If you do not have a basement, you may have to go into your crawlspace to access this valve. After this, open one or two faucets, especially on the lowest level if possible, to lessen the water pressure currently in the lines.

Step 2:

Cut the waterline & crimp the valve. You may have a little water come out of the pipe, but it shouldn’t be much since we decreased the water in the line in step 1. You will need the pex crimp-ring to be about 1/8th an inch from the end. Now you’re ready to crimp. You may use stainless steel cinch rings also.

Step 3:

Set the wax ring on the closet collar/flange and install closet bolts as shown in the video.

waxring-instructions-infographic

Step 4:

Set the toilet. Set the toilet over the closet bolts set in the flange from step 3. Adjust the toilet bowl to where you want it.

Step 5:

Next up is the closet collar (bolts) at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Make sure to put the plastic washers on first. Many of them say “this side up”. This allows the cap to snap on. This washer helps prevent the porcelain from cracking. Then place the brass washers on next. Place the nut’s beveled side (ferrule) down if applicable, this helps ensure the washer is centered. Seat the bowl & tighten the toilet bolts. Now you can you use a nut driver or wrench to tighten it down. Use a grinder or hack saw (be careful not to scratch the toilet) to cut the extra length above the nut so that the cap can fit over it.

Step 6:

Setting the tank: Place the rubber washers around the tank bolts and insert them through the tank. Attach the flush valve gasket. Push the flush valve gasket over the flush valve opening, underneath the tank. Place the tank onto the toilet bowl. Now tighten the plastic nuts onto the bolts going through the tank and bowl. Tighten until the tank is firm. Be careful not to over tighten. This can cause the tank to crack. Then you’ll have to buy a new tank. The toilet I like to use allows me to purchase tank and bowl separately.

Step 7:

Prep & install the new water supply line. Place the nut up through the pipe and screw it onto the end underneath the tank (usually on the lefthand side). Bend the waterline carefully to line it up with the valve you set in STEP 2 of the first video. Mark the pipe where it meets the valve. Be sure not to cut too short. You can use a flexible supply line for easier installation. Now use the tubing cutters to gently cut the pipe on your mark. Put the nut onto the end of the pipe then put the ferrule on next. For safety, you can use pipe dope to lightly coat the ferrule. Now you can tighten both ends onto the toilet and valve.

Step 8:

Turn the water & new valve on. There is a water level line in most tanks. You can adjust the fill valve to the desired level. Different fill valves have different adjusting methods. Read the instructions that came with your toilet to do this. It’s fairly simple. Now you can simply put your tank lid on.

Step 9:

Fasten on the new toilet seat. Not all toilet seats will have the easy clean feature for quick removal. Make sure you tighten the seat real firm so that it doesn’t loosen over time.

Thanks for watching Green Plumbing’s toilet installation tutorial. You’re finished! Enjoy your new toilet knowing you set it the proper way.

How to Eliminate a Possible Sewer Smell

Have you noticed a bad smell or sewer odor coming from a drain or a toilet? It may be the water in the P-trap has evaporated. It’s called a P-trap, because it is shaped like the letter “P.”  You will find one under most every drain.  Toilets have a built in P-trap underneath the bowl.  When filled with water, the P-Trap blocks those nasty odors from coming through the drain into your home or business.  Sometimes, the water in the P-Trap evaporates, especially when the drain is rarely used, for instance in a guest bathroom. So, if you smell sewer coming from a drain, try running or pouring some water down that drain, a gallon or two of water should do the trick. This allows the P-Trap to fill with water and to “trap” the foul stench.  Problem solved!

Plumbing Vanity P-trap
P-trap Under Sink