Eco-Friendly Ways to Unclog Drains

Clogged toilets, sinks, and floor drains are a hassle and can be quite nasty. If you’re faced with kitchen or bathroom clog and you want to get back to business as usual, there are measures you can take to alleviate the blockage.

At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we believe in using eco-friendly approaches to clearing drains. We highly discourage the use of chemical cleaners not only because they are destructive to water pipes and drains, but can pose a serious hazard to children and pets.

So, what are my options?

That’s a great question. Here are three solutions you can try that often yield good results.

Pick Up the Plunger

Every household should have a plunger. Yes, this tool isn’t pleasant, but it’s the first line of defense against a tough clog. Plunging works well for shallow clogs. Blockages that have moved past the toilet trap or are further in the piping that attached to your sink may require professional drain cleaning.

Related Posts: How to Choose the Right Plunger for Maximum Results

Try Baking Soda

Sometimes plunging a toilet doesn’t remove all the debris. If the drain is still moving slowly, try pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by three cups of boiling water. This mixture works well at loosening debris left behind and may help you achieve that clear drain.

Add Vinegar

If the clog is resistant to plunging and baking soda, try a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. The best ratio of baking soda to vinegar is 1:1. In this case, start with ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of warm vinegar.

If these solutions don’t get your drains clear, it’s time to call your local plumber. vista-cars.ru Plumbing plumbers have specialized drain cleaning equipment like the hydro-jet to get rid of tough clogs.

To learn more about your drain cleaning options, get in touch with a vista-cars.ru Plumber today.

A DIY Plumbing Maintenance Checklist for You

Regular maintenance goes a long way toward sustaining a working plumbing system. Homeowners who are on top of kitchen and bathroom plumbing maintenance will reap the rewards. Minor repairs are less expensive than major repair or replacement services. While it’s always a good idea to call a licensed plumber if you have questions, we know that educated homeowners experience fewer problems. That is why we put together this professional grade plumbing maintenance checklist for you to identify and repair small problems on your own.

Kitchen Plumbing Maintenance

Your home’s kitchen can be a source of plumbing leaks and clogs. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your sinks and drains in top condition.

  • Inspect your sinks for leaks. This is the hardest-working fixture in the kitchen. Leaks can form quickly and virtually anywhere. Check your faucet, garbage disposal, under-sink piping, and the faucet’s sprayer.
  • Look for signs of water damage under the sink.
  • Use your garbage disposal according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Clean the sink drain regularly to get rid of debris. There are chemical cleaners that are safe or you can search online for natural solutions.

Bathroom Plumbing Maintenance

The #1 service call we receive at vista-cars.ru Plumbing is for a clogged toilet. But, toilet clogs aren’t the only bathroom plumbing problems that our customer experience. Check out these maintenance tips for a watertight bathroom.

  • Clear drains. If drains have hair or other visible debris, remove it by hand or by using drain snake.
  • Check the base of the toilet and around faucets and shower heads for leaks.
  • Repair running toilets. This is a cheap and easy fix that can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.
  • Clean faucets or shower heads that have limescale buildup. If necessary, replace the fixtures if cleaning doesn’t work.

Septic and Sewer Maintenance

Sewer line repair is a major expense. Don’t let this home plumbing problem take you by surprise. There are things you can do today to prevent a busted sewer line or raw sewage from backing up into your home.
• Use an enzyme additive on a regular basis to clean the septic system.
• Schedule regular inspections by a professional plumber. Annual inspections are recommended.
• Do not plant trees or other types of shrubbery with long roots near the sewer line. Landscaping should be planted at least 10 ft. away from sewer lines to prevent tree roots from growing into the line or strangling the line.
• Have the sewer line cleaned annually.
• Call for professional service immediately if you suspect a problem.

vista-cars.ru Plumbing has over 20 years of experience helping homeowners and businesses with their plumbing problems. We serve metropolitan areas in Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson), Texas (Houston) and California (Southern and Central CA). To schedule an inspection or to learn more about the plumbing maintenance and repair services we offer, call us today.

We offer same-day service, free estimates, and affordable pricing. No one beats our commitment to quality workmanship and excellent customer service!

Setting the Record Straight – 5 Plumbing Myths

Homeowners can save a lot of money and feel more in control of their home’s plumbing by learning how to maintain it. There are a lot of old wives’ tales out there, but not all of them are safe for your system. Here are five myths about residential plumbing that you’ll want to steer clear of to properly safeguard your pipes and fixtures.

Myth #1 – Lemons Clean a Disposal

Putting lemons in the garbage disposal in small chunks will not harm the appliance. It will certainly make it smell better, but that’s about it. If you’re using lemons as a natural, chemical-free way to clean the appliance, let us give you a better option.

Disinfecting your disposal is a good idea. It sees a lot of bacteria. The best way to do this is to mix together a cleaning solution of warm water and mild soap. Spray the appliance with the solution and then use a scrub brush to clean the disposal’s blades. Make sure you turn the power off to the disposal before doing this to avoid injury.

Myth #2 – Run Water while Operating the Garbage Disposal to Move Material through the Pipes

This is a myth that is partly true, but mostly misleading. Running the water while running the disposal and for a short time after the appliance is turned off keeps small particles moving through the blades and into the water pipe. The misleading part of this advice is that you have to be careful of what you dispose of in the first place.

Unfortunately, many homeowners find out very quickly that running tap water while grinding up the wrong waste can still lead to jams and other problems. A disposal is not meant to be used as a trash compactor. Certain things like egg shells, pasta, banana peels, and hard or thick food waste cannot be grinded in the disposal no matter how much water runs through the disposal during operation.

Myth #3 – Water Is Flowing through the Drains, So I Don’t Have to Worry about Clogs

Not true! If you’ve experienced stubborn clogs in the past and only treated the symptoms and not the actual problem, you may be able to use your drains without incident for a while. However, if there are still blockages inside of the pipes that weren’t properly taken care of, you’ll soon find it difficult to use your sink, toilet, or bathtub/shower.

Treating clogs with powerful, professional drain cleaning right away is the best way to ensure that the problem is completely eradicated. Services like vista-cars.ru Plumbing recommend regular drain cleaning and video camera inspections to take care of small clogs before they become major obstructions.

Myth #4- You Can Clean Your Fixtures with Any Solution

Plumbing fixtures require specific cleaning habits depending on the fixture. For example, brass plumbing fixtures fare better when cleaned using gentle, mild solutions. Toilets, on the other hand, need to be sanitized and are built tough. Use powerful disinfectants to kill germs. One-size-fits-all cleaning solutions just don’t cut it when taking care of plumbing fixtures.

Myth #5 – I Don’t Have to Maintain My Plumbing System

If you think your plumbing system was designed to take care of itself, you may be in for a rude awakening. While water pipes, drains, and other components of residential systems are designed to work well for many years, that still doesn’t mean they don’t require a little TLC.  Sewer lines should be inspected to make sure tree roots aren’t growing into the line. Water heaters need to be flushed regularly to get rid of sediment and even faucets, sinks, and toilets need attention to keep tough clogs away.

Don’t let old wives’ tales keep you from properly caring for your plumbing system. For more tips, give your friendly plumber a call today!

Is a Wetroom a Good Choice for Your Bathroom?

Wetrooms are open-concept bathrooms that are quite popular across the pond in the UK. While this concept is still rather new to American homeowners, we get calls from property owners interested in this bathroom configuration enough times to make it a topic worthy of its own blog post.

So, what exactly is a wetroom?

Essentially, a wetroom is a bathroom that has an open shower configuration. The shower does not have a door and its floor is flush with the rest of the bathroom’s flooring. This kind of bathroom configuration works well in small bathrooms because it gives the illusion of space and eliminates clearance obstacles for swinging shower doors. UK properties tend to be smaller than American homes, which is why the wetroom is seen more often across the Atlantic.

If you’re interested in remodeling an existing bathroom in this manner, there are some things you’ll want to take into consideration.

Waterproofing

The greatest challenge homeowners face with this kind of shower setup is the potential for leaks or other water damage. Waterproofing is essential since the entire bathroom acts as the enclosure for the shower. Materials used must be able to withstand dampness. For example, you’ll need to install a vanity that is made of materials that won’t warp or breakdown from the exposure to the constant humidity.

If you’re interested in using natural stone, a wetroom may not be ideal. Natural stone is porous and absorbs water. Wetrooms with natural stone need to be resealed every couple of months to stay watertight. This is why most wetrooms use ceramic tile or another similar material.

Heating

While wetrooms are stylish, comfort is an issue. With traditional, enclosed showers, the water heats the area and keeps you warm while taking the shower. Since the entire bathroom acts as the enclosure in a wetroom, it is harder to stay warm while showering. Some homeowners opt to install radiant floor heating to overcome this challenge or heat lamps.

Resell Value

If you plan to sell your home in the near future, contact a real estate agent to find out if this is a feature that will attract homebuyers. Although a wetroom may increase your property’s value, it may turn off potential buyers.

Constructing a Wetroom

If you decide to accept the wetroom challenge, make sure you work with a licensed plumber who understands the delicate nature of these bathrooms. Planning must be precise and you may need additional permits.

For more information about the latest trends in bathroom plumbing, get in touch with vista-cars.ru Plumbing. We can help you design a bathroom that is stylish, functional, and will add value to your home.

10 Crazy Plumbing Facts You Didn’t Know!

Plumbing is serious work, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun or interesting facts that are part of the industry. At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we like to show our lighter side every once in a while. Today’s blog post is all about fun and interesting facts. Here are some things you may not have known about plumbing.

#1 – Albert Einstein may have been a famous theoretical physicist, but he was also an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. After the union had heard him say if he could live his life over he’d be a plumber, they granted him symbolic membership.

#2 – How do you put the toilet roll on the holder? Did you know that 3 out of 4 people opt to have the flap in the front? Believe it or not, $100,000 was once spent on a study to find out people’s toilet paper hanging preferences.

#3 – Do you need a plumber the day after your Super Bowl party? It’s not surprising considering that the toilet is flushed more times during the halftime celebrations than any other time during the year.

#4 – Can you guess who the most famous plumbers are? The answer might surprise. Appearing in over 200 video games, Mario and Luigi have been the most well-known plumbers since 1985.

#5 – What are the most common items flushed down the toilet? Children’s toys are still popular items that can clog a toilet, but smartphones are slowly taking the lead. From phones falling out of pockets while in the bathroom to phones being used while in the bathroom, it may be a good idea to get that protection plan the next time you upgrade.

#6 – During the Vietnam War, intelligence leaks were common. President Richard Nixon created a White House Special Investigations Unit to plug these leaks. The group, which was covert in nature, were nicknamed the “plumbers.”

#7 – Why is the toilet nicknamed “The John?” John Harrington invented the first flushing toilet in 1596. As far the toilet’s other nickname? That came from Thomas Crapper who was responsible for helping the flushing toilet to gain popularity.

#8 – You may not be wasting away your whole life in the bathroom, but, according to studies, at least 3 years of your life is spent in this room.

#9 – If you were to test the water in sewer systems, you would most likely discover a large amount of drugs in the system. This is because 90% of all medicines including pain relievers are excreted through urine.

#10 – Plumbing can be traced back to the time of the Romans when lead pipe inscriptions were used to stop water theft. However, after this period in history, no other advances were made in plumbing technology until the 19th century. This is when sewage systems were created to abolish cesspools in populated areas.

Plumbing Changes You Should Make When Renovating Your Home

Is a home renovation project in your future plans? This can be an exciting time, but it can also be quite overwhelming. Not only can a renovation create chaos in your home for a while, it can also create a financial burden. If you’re remodeling an area of your home that has existing plumbing such as the kitchen, bathroom, or an unfinished basement, here are some plumbing changes that should be addressed when planning the renovation.

Replacing Old Plumbing

An older home has a lot of charm, but it also has the potential for plumbing problems. The reason for this is that many older homes have aging water pipes that should be replaced to avoid leaks and water damage. When the walls are open, ask your plumber to examine the existing pipes for signs of wear and tear, corrosion, and other problems. While re-piping is not the most existing part of a renovation, sometimes it is necessary to avoid problems down the road.

Replacing Outdated Fixtures

Are you updating your bathroom? Whether you’re giving your bathroom a fresh coat of paint or relocating its major components, consider updating old fixtures with energy-efficient fixtures. Bathroom components such as faucets, showerheads, and toilets are now available at reasonable prices and conserve hundreds of gallons of water in a single month. WaterSense fixtures meet EPA standards for low-flow usage without reducing performance. In some communities, you may even be able to get money back in the form of rebates and tax incentives. Your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing technician will be able to help you determine if these incentives are available for your situations.

These are just two plumbing changes you may want to consider when renovating an existing space. For more suggestions, call your friendly plumber before you begin your project. By speaking with a plumber before you begin your project, you can ensure that your expectations of the completed project will be met with as few design hiccups as possible. It will also safeguard the installation and make sure that your renovation is up to current building code requirements.

3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

Many people tolerate minor plumbing problems because they don’t feel it’s bad enough to warrant calling a plumber. While they may not be serious enough to cripple your daily routine, these issues are certainly frustrating and can have a long-term impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, homeowners inclined toward do-it-yourself jobs can address several of the most common issues with just a few basic tools.

While some of these repairs are relatively easy, it’s always better to talk to a professional if you have any doubts about the project. Some jobs, like water heater installation and repair, require the skill and certification of a licensed professional plumber.

Common Plumbing Issues that Anyone Can Fix

1. Leaky or Clogged Faucets
Many sink faucets are equipped with aerators, which limit the flow of water to reduce consumption. They are a great way to conserve one of our most precious resources and cut back on bill costs. However, the screen can also act as a sieve that traps debris and sediment carried by the water. You can clean the aerator by unscrewing it from the faucet and brushing it with a tough sponge or brush.

Fixing a leaking faucet is a bit more challenging, but is still within the scope of most homeowners. It’s a good idea to look up instructions online or from the manufacturer beforehand, to learn about the unit’s specifications. Most of these leaks can be remedied by adding a washer or simply tightening some of the joint connections.

2. Removing Minor Clogs
Stepping into a warm shower only to dip your foot into a pool of cold water is rarely a pleasant experience. This is a classic symptom of a drain clog, which can happen in any of your sink or bathroom fixtures. Hair, dirt and other debris can build up into a blockage that restricts water flow and eventually blocks it completely.

Rather than dumping expensive toxic and corrosive chemicals into your system, you can try to dissolve the clogs with a safe solution of baking soda and vinegar. While this won’t melt solid material, it can help clear away some of the buildup inside the lines. You can also bend a coat hanger into a hook to pull out wads of hair or garbage that are obstructing water flow.

3. Aligning Toilet Components
The constant trickle of a running toilet can get on your nerves after a few days, and jiggling the handle will only get you so far. Replacing the balloon and stopper in the toilet tank, or even just bending the mechanism back into place, is an easy fix to this issue. You can also stop your toilet from wobbling when you sit by tightening the screws that fasten the base to the floor. The connectors are usually covered by tiny caps located below the toilet bowl.

Did you know that vista-cars.ru Plumbing has self-help videos on its YouTube channel? Many of these videos are used for training purposes, but we welcome homeowners to view them too!

Tips for Saving for Money on Your Water Bill

Reducing water usage has many benefits. Saving money on your monthly water bill is one of those advantages. You may be familiar with water-saving tips such as turning the water off when you brush your teeth or collecting shower water to water your garden, but there are other ways to conserve water without even thinking about it. By switching out old fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and toilets for high-efficiency ones you can save a great deal of energy, which, ultimately, saves you money.

Here’s a surprising statistic. Did you know, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that if every household in the country used water-efficient appliances and fixtures the savings could equal $18 billion U.S. dollars each year? That equates to 3 trillion gallons of water.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, many households opt out of upgrading or retrofitting their fixtures because they aren’t sure what products to purchase or they are concerned about the costs to change out these appliances. Let’s take a moment to talk about the terminology, cost, and what fixtures are best to upgrade.

Low-Flow Fixtures

When shopping for new plumbing fixtures, you want to look for the term low-flow. Ultra-low-flow fixtures use upwards of 20% less water without compromising performance.

Cost to Upgrade

Over the past several years, it’s become less expensive to upgrade to water-saving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads are surprisingly affordable. Most households don’t have the ability to upgrade every fixture in the home immediately. They must make these changes a little at a time. So, which fixtures should you purchase first?

Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade the fixture costing you the most money to operate. Toilets, generally, waste the most water. It is estimated by the EPA that toilets make up 30% of a home’s total water consumption. Most toilets manufactured before 1994 use well over the recommend 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) threshold. If you have older toilets in your home, spend your money upgrading these fixtures first.

Also, many municipalities offer incentives in the form of rebates to households that upgrade to WaterSense fixtures.

Top 3 Plumbing Upgrades

Let’s break down the three plumbing upgrades you can make today to give you the best return on your investment.

Toilets

We’ve already determined these necessary fixtures use an obscene amount of water. But, which kind of toilet should you buy? Here’s a quick overview of water-efficient models available.

Composting toilet: This is a dry toilet. It uses no water, but it is not suitable for indoor use. The majority of people who purchase these toilets use them in areas where water supplies are limited or a septic or sewer system is not available.

Dual-flush toilet: If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you may be familiar with these toilets as they are very popular in these areas of the world. They are also becoming increasingly popular in commercial restrooms in the United States. The dual-flush toilet gives you two flush options: one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. The liquid waste flushing option uses significantly less water than the solid waste option.

High-efficiency toilets: This is the most popular residential option that meets the current EPA WaterSense standard, which is 1.28 gpf. There are numerous models available that cost less than $200. Some even cost less than $100.

Showerheads

Showerheads come in second to toilets as water-guzzling offenders. The average showerhead contributes to 20% of a home’s water usage. You may be turned off to low-flow showerheads because you’ve heard that the water stream is significantly lower. Technology has changed and responded to homeowners’ concerns. Today’s low-flow showerheads are much better and the water stream is not affected at all just your water bill.

Faucets

There are plenty of options available for low-flow faucets. Some households are actually going a step further and installing touch-free faucets. Not only do these fixtures save money, they are also quite sanitary.

If you’re ready to make the switch and still have questions, give us a call. Our vista-cars.ru Plumbing technicians are always happy to help you determine the best products for your home, lifestyle, and budget.

Protect Your Septic System: Flushables that Shouldn’t Be Flushed

The toilet may be a convenient way to get rid of smelly waste material, but treating it like a garbage receptacle can cause serious problems in the fixture, pipes and septic system. In fact, even products that are marketed as “flushable” can have detrimental effects on your plumbing.

The first step towards protecting your system from “unflushables” is to educate yourself regarding what material can be safely flushed. Discourage family members and guests from putting anything else in the toilet, and be sure to place trash cans in each bathroom to provide an easy alternative

The Dangers of Flushable Products

Wet wipes are a popular item when flushing is concerned. Whether they are for your baby or simply for general use, you shouldn’t make a habit out of putting these in the toilet. The wipes do not decompose as quickly as toilet paper, which creates the potential for clogs in your home plumbing as well as in the larger sewer system.

Cat dirt is another common culprit in the “flushable” category. Even if the litter is described as toilet-friendly, there is still a chance that it will cause a clog in your sewer lines. Cat feces also have a high chance of containing a protozoan parasite that causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. Conventional water filtration does not always remove the parasite, which can re-enter the water supply and cause serious health issues for weak or young individuals.

Other Household Items that Should not be Flushed

You may remember your parents warning you not to put napkins or paper towels in the toilet. There is a good reason for this, believe it or not! Unlike toilet paper, which is designed to break apart easily, paper towels absorb and clump inside the sewer system. A few of these can cause a major blockage in no time at all.

Many personal hygiene products, like tampons and diapers, are also a threat to your home’s plumbing. Dental floss, human hair and paper wrappings may seem harmless, but they are another no-no when it comes to proper toilet use. Do not put any food waste in the toilet, especially items containing fats or oil.

Contact a professional plumber for advice if you are unsure if a certain item or product can be safely flushed. If the item is not plumbing-friendly, you can dispose of it by sealing it in a plastic bag and taking it to a landfill or placing it in your primary garbage can if allowed by local law.

DIY Tips: How to Tighten a Loose Toilet

Sick of feeling like you might fall off the toilet every time you sit down?

There are several connections between the toilet seat, the fixture itself and the floor that are likely to loosen over time, especially with frequent use. Once you identify the connection that needs to be fastened, it is usually a simple matter of tightening a few bolts and replacing broken parts.

It’s recommended that you consult a licensed plumber if you notice a leak, strange sounds or other unusual problems with your toilet. Water damage can be expensive to repair, especially if it is not addressed quickly.

How to Steady a Wobbling Toilet at Home

Step 1: Check the base of your toilet for bolts connecting it to the floor. Many toilets have small domes or coverings that hide the bolts, which need to be removed with a flat instrument. The nut and washer should be visible.

Step 2: Turn the nut clockwise with your hand to make sure it turns easily. Do not try to forcefully twist the nuts, as this could break the bolt or another part of the connection. Continue turning until you feel resistance, and then use a wrench to make a few more rotations to create a sound seal.  Repeat this step for all bolts on either side of the toilet as needed.

Step 3: Rock the toilet to test the results. If it still moves, then you should check around the base of the toilet for signs of damage that could cause the instability.

Fixing a Loose Toilet Seat

Your toilet is likely to see at least several different seats during its lifespan. Seats are connected to the toilet fixture by two or more hinges on the tank-side of the basin, which may be hidden by a removable cover. The first step is to test and tightens the bolts as described above. If the seat itself is broken, it can be removed and replaced by removing the bolts.

What Causes Toilets to Wobble?

Exposure to high levels of moisture in bathrooms with a tub or shower and frequently bearing various weight loads eventually causes parts to give out. In many cases, replacement of the bolts or other components of the toilet floor flange can solve problems caused by “normal wear and tear. “

It is also possible that the toilet was not installed correct initially, causing immediate or hidden issues that destabilize the entire fixture. Talk to a plumber about your options for repairing or replacing the toilet. Re-installation is a common solution to issues stemming from oversights in the initial placement.