2 Ways to Tell if Your Home’s Main Drain is Being Choked by Tree Roots

Tree with large root structureWhat would you think if an appliance in your home started draining slowly or not draining at all?  If you are like most people, you would assume that something that went down the drain is causing a clog.  But you could be wrong; in homes with certain risk factors, it could be the trees in your own yard causing your drains to slow and back up. Learn to identify these risk factors and what you can do if you think your pipes are being clogged with tree roots.

What Roots do to Pipes

Mature trees can have very large underground root structures.  Every year, the tips of these roots expand via very fine, hairlike rootlings seeking more space…and water.  The roots infiltrate underground plumbing pipes such as your main drain through small openings at the pipe joints.  As more and more roots enter the pipe, they create a tangle in your drain and also let in dirt through the openings.  The blockage of the roots impedes waste from your appliances from properly passing through the pipes, catching toilet paper, grease, hair and other debris until the flow is reduced or your drain is completely blocked.  Enough root infiltration and expansion can also eventually cause pipes to crack and collapse.

Risk Factors for Root Problems

1)     The first factor is having large, mature trees within 30 feet of your home’s main drain line to the sewer. (This is a 4 inch drain line connecting your home’s plumbing to the public sewer, and is the homeowner’s responsibility.)  No trees, no root problem.

2)     Second, if your home has clay, asbestos, or cast iron pipes, your drains are susceptible to root damage through the softer material and weaker joint openings.  However modern piping uses harder, more airtight ABS or PVC piping, and roots cannot infiltrate this material. If you’re not sure what kind of pipes your home has, it’s generally the case that homes built before 1970 have the weaker pipes and are at risk for root damage.

Assessing and Clearing Root Blockages in Drain Lines

If your home has the above risk factors and your water is draining slowly, you should have your main drain line assessed for root damage. A qualified plumber will run a camera down a drain in your home and be able to see clearly what kind of pipes you have, and if it is tree roots causing a blockage.  A mechanical auger can be used to clear out roots and flush out debris in the pipes. Keep in mind that once roots have entered a pipe they will continue to grow every year, so it is important to be diligent about monitoring the amount of root spread in your line. If the pipes are quite damaged, the solution is to re-pipe or re-line your current pipes. Hy-Mark offers all of these services, and provides free in-home consultations. Call us today for help with your drains or any other plumbing service at 1 800 727 0750.

4 Everyday Things That Are Clogging Your Drains

1. Hair, hair, and more hair

Hair is one of the number one culprits for drain clogs, particularly in the bathroom.  Though you may only see a few strands going down a day, little by little it does build up in your pipes, especially when it combines with soap to form a sticky gob that is just, well…not pleasant.  Long strands are the worse offenders, but even short hairs can contribute to clogs.drain

What to do

Fit your tub and sink drains with a strainer that will catch hair and any other small particles, and then clean that strainer regularly.  You won’t believe how much gunk you’re saving your drain from.

2. Grease

We’ve all seen the solid fats that form from cooled cooking oil or animal grease. So why are we surprised when it looks like that in our pipes?  The truth is even though you can wash fat down the drain while it’s hot, once it is out of your sight it will cool and form clumps, forming a drain blockage.  And yet we’re not going to give up bacon any time soon, so…

What to do

While it is still hot, pour as much excess grease as possible into a container. An empty tin can works well. You can keep this can covered with a lid in your freezer, which will minimize odours.  Rinse the rest of the grease off your cookware right away, while running lots of very hot soapy water to help break down the oil and help flush it down the drain.

3. Food

Even small bits of food can build up and expand in your pipes.

What to do

Again, use a drain strainer to catch food scraps.  And keep that veggie peeler away from your sink!

4. Bathroom products

Despite being labelled as “disposable,” many bathroom products can still cause clogs. Flushable wipes, super thick ply toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products are all liable to clog up a home’s pipes.  In general, only high powered public toilets can manage to handle these products.

What to do

Dispose of “flushable” wipes and feminine hygiene products in the garbage.  And stick with regular toilet paper. We promise no one will think you’re letting your bum slum.

Still got clogged pipes or backed up drains?  We can help! Call us at 800 727 0750.

The Dangers of DIY Plumbing

DIY PlumbingThe DIY mentality is here to stay.  With information at our finger tips we can proclaim ourselves to be experts at anything with a few clicks.  Almost any kind of home repair solution can be found online, and when budgets are tight you are careful with every dollar spent.  The question we’re asking: is the risk really worth it when it comes to plumbing?

What Could Go Wrong? 

Plumbing is a precise trade that requires practitioners to go through a long apprenticeship in order to obtain a license.  When you don’t fully understand all facets of the job, a minor misstep can turn into thousands of dollars in damage.  In fact, did you know that most insurance coverage will not apply if you do the work yourself, as opposed to hire a professional?

Hy-Mark is here to help.  We have outlined steps homeowners can take for the most common plumbing mishaps.

Drain Clogs

First and most importantly, do not use any chemicals.  The most effective approach is to fill your sink (if you have a dual or double sink, fill both sides) with hot water and pull the plug(s) to let the hot water run through all your pipes and release the blockage.

Wet Spots on your Ceiling

When you notice a wet spot on your ceiling, the first thing you need to ask yourself is ‘what was I just doing?’. Was I using the toilet, taking a shower, having a bath? These answers will help identify if this is a water related issue.  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, immediately stop using that fixture. The next question to ask is ‘can this wait until tomorrow?’.  The reason to consider this is because you are likely noticing this spot in the evening.  Having a plumbing technician come for an after-hours inspection will likely come with an after-hours emergency fee.  We recommend watching the wet spot over the next 30 minutes to see if it grows.  If yes, call Hy-Mark immediately to reach one of our emergency plumbing technicians.  Otherwise make a service appointment for the next day.  This will ensure a solution is found, but at the most affordable price.

To learn more about all plumbing services Hy-Mark offers click here.  Call our office to learn more about our annual plumbing maintenance packages available.