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Only Toilet Paper Down the Toilet Drain – Here’s Why

toilet paper down drain

Whether it was when you were younger or a more recent reminder from your plumbing company, chances are you’re aware that you shouldn’t be flushing things besides toilet paper down your toilet. Most of us generally follow this rule without totally understanding it, and there are even some who don’t pay it much attention at all.

At All Hours Drain Cleaning, our drain cleaning services include helping you with proactive areas like this that can benefit you drains and prevent you from having to spend on hydro-jetting or another of our drain clearing formats. What’s behind the repeated warnings you might have heard to keep other items out of your toilet drain? Let’s go over exactly why this rule is so important.

Issues With Tree Roots

Within any home or building, sewer lines that run into the house have to also connect to public supply and runoff lines. This is often done with lines that cross parts of the property, usually the back yard. In some cases, tree roots nearby may grow into the porous materials of these sewer lines.

When this happens, the roots of the tree act as a strainer of sorts. They allow water to pass through just fine, but they tend to stop other debris – which, over time, will build up until water can’t get through. At this point, you’ll have one of the most expensive plumbing fixes out there on your hands. But instead, you can just avoid it altogether by following your plumber’s directive and only flushing approved toilet paper down.

Feminine Products and Other Items

While there are some feminine products like tampons that advertise themselves as fully flushable, we recommend against this in all cases. These products are small, certainly, but they are not meant to break down the way toilet paper does (more on this in a moment) and will absolutely clog your sewer line if the opportunity is there. Instead, we recommend wrapping all such products in toilet paper and throwing them away in the trash.

The same goes for any other items that say they’re flushable, such as wipes and paper towels. These items may dissolve like toilet paper, but take longer to do it and can create clogs. We recommend using the trash instead.

Why Toilet Paper Is Okay

Toilet paper is the one exception to flushing rules because of the way it’s designed to break down in septic systems. Different types break down at different speeds, but they’re all meant to dissolve entirely before reaching the city’s sewer main. This is why they’re different from virtually all other products or items in this area.

For more on why you should always follow the rule of nothing but toilet paper down the drain, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain Cleaning today.

Cleaning Drains Without Harsh Chemicals

cleaning drains without chemicals

For many home and business owners alike, the default response to a clog or blockage in any drain is to quickly break out the chemicals. There are a number of chemical drain cleaning products readily available at every home improvement store, and we often look to this low-hanging fruit anytime we have a drain issue that needs clearing.

At All Hours Drain, we’re here to tell you that this isn’t necessarily the best approach. While there might indeed be certain severe clogs that require a bit of help from chemicals or our drain cleaning services to clear up, many don’t – and by constantly using such chemicals, you can be endangering both your pipes and the environment. Let’s look at the issues with overusing chemicals, plus some steps for clearing drain clogs without them.

Issues With Chemicals

There are two main problems with the approach of always using chemicals anytime anything goes wrong with your drains:

  • Pipe strain: The chemicals you’re pouring down your drain are meant to eat away at the blockages inside your pipes, but here’s the thing: They don’t discriminate, and they’ll eventually begin eating away at pipe material as well. Over time, this can wear down pipes and cause leaks or bursts far earlier than normal.
  • Environmental issues: Flushing down large quantities of chemicals anytime you have even a minor backup in the drain damages the environment.

Now let’s look at some steps for cleaning the drain using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), involving no harmful chemicals of any kind. This method is particularly useful for hair-induced clogs, though it can work with several types.

Step #1: Down the Drain

For starters, prepare your materials: Measure a full cup of baking soda plus a full cup of plain white vinegar, keeping them separate. From here, pour the baking soda down the clogged drain, then immediately follow it up by pouring the vinegar down after it. There’s no need to cover or otherwise impact the drain after pouring.

Step #2: Watch, Wait and Flush

For at least the next five minutes or so, stay by the drain you’ve just poured your solution down and keep a careful eye on it. The primary effect you’re looking for is a fizzing taking place inside the drain, which signals that your solution has reached the clogged area and is working to break it down.

After roughly five minutes, it’s time to flush the solution down. Have two full quarts of hot (not boiling) water ready, and pour them down the drain.

Step #3: Repeat As Necessary

If your flushing water doesn’t go down at roughly the normal speed you’d expect for your drain, start over and repeat these steps as needed. If a particular clog is tough and won’t respond initially, try pouring some salt into the drain after the baking soda instead of vinegar – let this sit overnight, and then flush it in the morning with a couple cups of boiling water. None of these methods will harm the environment or eat away at your pipes.

For more on cleaning your drains without harsh chemicals, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning or plumbing services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Connection Between Trees and Water Lines

connection trees water lines

As a savvy homeowner, you likely think about a number of factors when it comes to keeping your drains and sewer lines clear and free of blockages: You practice good drain habits like never flushing non-toilet items down, avoiding grease in the garbage disposal and have regular plumbing inspections done. There’s one area that plays a role here that you might not have even considered, however: Trees on your property.

At All Hours Drain, our drain cleaning services include assisting you with some of these lesser-known impacts on your sewer system. How on earth can the trees in your yard impact the plumbing in your home? Let’s take a look, plus show you some ways to prevent any issues from cropping up here.

Trees, Roots and Plumbing Lines

Trees are kept alive in part by their root systems, which reach out far and wide to obtain water and vital nutrients. But particularly in dry climates like Utah’s, there are plenty of times where tree roots won’t be able to locate the proper moisture quantity – and in these cases, they’ll go looking for other sources.

So what are some of the first such sources available? Your home’s main sewer lines. Some of the largest home plumbing issues out there take place when roots infiltrate sewer lines, literally growing into them and causing major cracks and water loss. In the worst cases, tree roots can even grow into the home’s foundation itself as they search for water sources.

This means that if you’re considering planting new trees on your property, or even if older ones are growing, you have to be conscious of this. Our next sections will go over some tree types to maybe avoid, plus some other tips to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Worst Tree Types

Certain types of trees are known to have more aggressive root systems or a need for more water. These include willows, maple trees, elm trees, and poplar trees. We recommend not installing these on your property if your sewer lines have ever been an issue in the past, and being very careful with them if they’re already present on your property.

Avoidance Tips

Some basic additional tips to avoid tree roots infiltrating your water lines:

  • Know the location of sewer lines in your yard – there’s a national 811 number you can call to find underground utility locations if you aren’t sure.
  • Plant trees and shrubs with less aggressive root systems and needs for less water.
  • Plant trees with significant roots at least 20 to 30 feet from all water or sewer lines.
  • Properly water and provide nutrients to all trees and shrubs so they don’t attempt to branch out to other areas.
  • Properly maintain your sewer line – a broken line leaking water is just inviting tree roots to head that direction.
  • If you’ve had these issues in the past, consider a root growth barrier near your sewer lines that will steer roots in other directions.

For more on preventing major issues from trees in your yard, or to learn about any of our other drain cleaning or plumbing services, speak with the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Answering Basic Drain Questions

answering drain questions

You may not think about them this often, but the drains in your home are vital components to your everyday life. Without them functioning properly, you’d deal with several issues in daily routine and even larger long-term plumbing concerns – and when there are problems with drain functions, you notice them quickly for this very reason.

This means it’s important to know a few simple basics when it comes to your drains, and at All Hours Drain, we’re here to help. Our drain cleaning pros are always here to answer your drain questions, no matter how simple they may seem. Here are some of the most common areas we’re asked about, plus a few daily drain-related precautions we can recommend for the diligent homeowner.

Foul Garbage Disposal Odor

Many homeowners notice a terrible smell that begins to become present in or around their garbage disposal – this is natural, and relates to the buildup of gunk and debris that runs through this area. There are a couple good methods for removing this odor:

  • Hot water flush: Plug your garbage disposal, then fill the plugged sink with hot water to about three or four inches high. Then add some basic dish soap, mix thoroughly, and flush it down the disposal. This will turn any grease or oil into a liquid, which you can then remove with scrubbing.
  • Ice cubes: Another method here is putting ice cubes in your disposal, then running it for 30 seconds or so to remove buildup of debris on your disposal blades. After the ice is chewed up, run cold water to clean out any remaining gunk.

One safety tip here: Never, ever reach your hands into the garbage disposal itself, especially if it’s having any issues. You risk serious injury if you do this even for a moment.

Gurgling Sink When Flushing Toilet

If you notice gurgling sounds from the sink when you flush the toilet, this is usually a telltale sign of a plumbing ventilation issue or drain clog. The same can be the case if you hear gurgling or notice bubbling water in the shower when you flush. For either of these issues, call our pros immediately.

Liquid Drain Cleaners

We’re regularly asked about using liquid drain cleaners for clogged sinks or drains, and we recommend against it generally. These are only temporary fixes for what are usually larger problems – these chemicals may break the clog for a bit, but they won’t remove it completely in most cases. Plus, they can damage your pipes over time and lead to much larger issues. We recommend finding alternative drain cleaning methods.

Daily Precautions

If clogged drains are a regular problem for you, or if you just want to be as diligent as possible, here are some basic daily tips for a few important drain areas:

  • Sink and bathtub: Make sure all these drains have strainers to stop hair and other debris from getting into drains. Check these regularly to ensure they’re clean and working properly.
  • Toilets: Only ever flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. You may see wipes labeled “flushable” – don’t flush these! Many of them are still bad for your plumbing system.
  • Garbage disposal: Do your best to limit larger food items put down the garbage disposal. Also limit greasy foods, starchy foods, and stringy or fibrous vegetables that may clog things up.

For more on basic drain care, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Primer on Common Plunger Types

common plunger types

Within the world of plumbing, plungers are a drain’s best friend. These simple devices use suction and air power to help clear up a clogged drain in several different home plumbing areas, and they’re an absolute must for every home or building that contains any significant plumbing or drains.

At All Hours Drain, we can help with any and all plunger-related concerns or questions in your home. Whether you need help understanding which plunger type is best for your clog or require full-on drain cleaning services because your plunger isn’t enough to get the job done, we’re always on hand with our 24-hour drain cleaning services. Let’s go over each of the three common plunger types, plus the purpose each serves within your home or building.

Flange Plunger

The flange plunger isn’t the simplest version or the one you might think of when you hear the word “plunger,” but we’re listing it first because it’s the most common and useful plunger type for the most frequent form of drain clog: The toilet.

Flange plungers look fairly similar to the cup plunger, which we’ll go over below – a standard piece with a basic suction cup at the end of it. However, flange plungers also include an additional soft rubber flap inside the suction cup. This flap is designed to create a tight seal even around non-flat surfaces; the cup plunger is only meant for directly flat areas, on the other hand. Nearly all toilet bowls are rounded at the area where the plunger will be used, so it’s important that you have a flange plunger for any toilet clogs.

Cup Plunger

The cup plunger is the simplest option out there, basically just a flange plunger without the additional rubber flap. It generally has a wooden handle and a red suction cup, though these materials and colors can differ.

While many people use them incorrectly on toilets, cup plungers are actually meant primarily for surfaces that are flat. They’re perfect for most kitchen sinks or runoff drains, for instance, and they’re useful if your shower drain gets clogged up as well. But they won’t work as well on toilets as flange plungers will.

Accordion Plunger

If you’re looking for something with even a bit more power than the flange plunger, the accordion is the way to go. On top of the basic flange piece, accordion plungers also come with a ridged grip and an extended, accordion-like body made from molded black plastic. When you’re attempting to clear a clog, the accordion plunger allows you to exert high levels of air force on the drain in question, providing a super-tight seal that can clear up even some of the toughest clogs you might be dealing with.

For more on the different types of plungers out there, or to learn about any of our clogged drain services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Tips for Avoiding Hair Clogs Early

kitchen sink

At All Hours Drain, we’re proud to provide 24-hour drain cleaning services for your home or building. There’s no drain issue we can’t handle, no clog we can’t remove to get your system back up and running.

As a home or business owner, you can help here as well. One of the single largest culprits in many drain clogs? Hair. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to prevent hair from ever becoming a large clog concern in your drains. Here are some tips.

Manual Processes

For starters, there are a few simple day-to-day processes you can undertake to prevent major hair buildups:

  • Brushing: Before showering, spend just a minute brushing your hair. This will remove any loose hairs in an area you can control, rather than having them fall down into the drain.
  • Running water: For men who shave, make sure you run the tap on your bathroom sink for at least a minute afterward. This allows hair to run the full way through the pipe instead of getting stuck in the middle.
  • Watch: When showering, keep a close eye out for loose hairs building up. If you can, place these in a pile away from the drain and throw it away after showering.

Drain Covers

There are a couple types of drain covers that can really help here:

  • Top drain screen: This is a very simple process that involves finding a screen that’s the right size, then placing it over your drain. Do this in every tub that doesn’t already have one installed. You can also find mesh strainers for sink drain openings.
  • Underneath drain screen: There are also screens meant to be installed below drain covers. These can be even more efficient in some cases.

Clearing Minor Clogs

Once in a while, minor hair clogs might be unavoidable. Luckily, there are some simple fixes to clear these up before they contribute to a larger issue:

  • Homemade rinse: About once a month, pour a cup of baking soda directly into any at-risk drains. Then, pour a cup of vinegar into the drain. The solution will bubble up for a bit, so don’t be surprised. After a few minutes, pour one or more cups of boiling water right down the drain opening to clear up sitting debris.
  • Hand cleaning: Using proper gloves and protection, you should clean drain screens about once a week or so. Simple reach your hand in and pull hair out – if you have an under-drain screen, you’ll have to unscrew the drain cover first.

For more on preventing hair from causing major issues, or to learn about any of our other drain cleaning services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Home Drain Maintenance Factors

drainer

If you’re dealing with a clogged drain in Salt Lake City, the experts at All Hours Drain are here to help. We’ve seen every possible issue here, and our drain cleaning services include several different methods that can get your plumbing system free of any blockages quickly and efficiently.

We’re also here to provide handy advice for homeowners and their drains, and this often includes tips to help avoid major drain clogs in the first place. Here are a few tips to maintain your drains on a regular basis.

Learn the Best Cleaning Methods

Many people automatically default to liquid chemicals for cleaning and unclogging drains, but this is actually a mistake –chemicals will indeed often get your drain clean, but they tend to do so while also damaging elements of the drain with their corrosive properties. There’s no indicator that tells a chemical to stop eating away when it finishes a clog; it will simply move on to the pipe itself.

Instead, try these alternatives:

  • Pour a large pot of very hot (but not quite boiling) water down the drain. This will melt any major clogs – then follow that up with a little cool water to wash away the clogs you just melted.
  • Once a month or so, combine half a cup of baking soda poured down the drain with a chaser of half a cup of vinegar. Then plug the drain and let it sit for 12 hours or so. After this period, flush the drains with hot water and they’ll smell and flush perfectly.

Know What Drains Are Meant For

It’s important that everyone in the home knows what drains are meant for – and perhaps more importantly, what they’re not meant for. Drains should never have grease, liquid fats, oils or similar substances poured down them, as these will solidify and stick to the insides of pipes. In addition, things like eggshells, coffee grounds and medications should not be poured down drains. When it comes to the toilet drain, literally nothing but waste and approved toilet tissue should be flushed.

Have Proper Tools Available

Always keep an auger, a snake, and a basic cup plunger in the home for simple drain clogs. Cup plungers are best for smaller clogs, and the snakes will be good for bigger issues.

For more on basic drain maintenance in the home, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Basics and Cleaning for Grease Traps

grease drain

At All Hours Drain, we’re proud to provide top quality drain cleaning services to residents throughout Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas. Whether it’s professional hydro jetting or sewer repair services, our pros can be on the scene quickly to help clear your system as efficiently as possible.

We’re also here to help with preventive measures that assist you in avoiding these kinds of drain clogs in the first place. One such measure? The grease trap, which is famous in the food industry but is also used by many home and business owners in the kitchen. Let’s go over how the grease trap works, plus some simple basics for cleaning it regularly to ensure clogs due to grease and oils aren’t a major risk for you.

Grease Trap Basics

The grease trap is an item that’s connected to the drain system in a given kitchen, large or small. It separates oils, grease and even sludge from water as it passes through into the drain, allowing only the pure water to move down the pipes and avoiding clogs. Naturally, though, the grease trap will fill up and will need to be cleaned.

Cleaning the Grease Trap

The steps for cleaning a grease trap are as follows:

  • Remove the lid slowly, using a pry bar if needed. If you move too fast or are too rough here, you can both spill grease and damage the bottom gasket below the lid.
  • Using a measuring stick that can be submerged in grease, place it into the trap until it reaches the bottom. Twirl it around so grease can accumulate, then remove it and measure the depth of the grease. For restaurants, this number will be part of the FOG Pump-Out report that’s sent to the EPA.
  • Remove all standing water using a small bucket.
  • Remove collected oils, grease and any sludge using a small bucket or scoop. Place all this waste in heavy-duty trash bags meant to hold liquids. Scrape the sides and lid of the trap clean – if you have a wet vacuum, it can help.
  • Scrub down the trap using soap, warm water and a rough metal scrubber. After this, rinse parts with water and then replace all parts and the lid.

For more on cleaning grease traps, or to learn about any of our drain cleaning services, speak to the pros at All Hours Drain today.

Avoiding Water-Wasting Errors

water waste

We’re all looking for smart ways to conserve in our daily lives, both for the benefit of our pocketbooks and the environment. One of the single largest areas that checks both boxes here? Water usage in the home.

At All Hours Plumbing, our plumbers are here for more than just fixing things – we can help you with areas like conserving more water and lowering your bill as a result. With that in mind, here are a few of the biggest water usage errors we see, and how you can correct them to start saving far more water.

Improper Toilet Use

The toilet is the single largest consumer of water in your home, generally accounting for about a third of all your water use. Toilet drains therefore undergo a significant daily strain – one that’s only increased if you or others in the home are flushing improper objects down it. Things like feminine products, tissues, cotton balls or basically anything other than human waste or approved toilet paper should never be flushed. Doing so not only wastes gallons of water in the process, but also increases the chances of a drain clog requiring drain cleaning services.

Leaking Pipes

The average US home can leak over 10,000 gallons of water per year, but you can avoid this if you’re diligent. Check regularly for leaks or signs of leaks around any fixtures you use regularly.

Half-Full Loads

Whether we’re talking about laundry, a dishwasher or any other home appliance that uses water, make sure you’re doing full loads every time. Doing half loads will still use the same amount of water for half the cleaning.

Shower Issues

For starters, one of the simplest ways to avoid wasting water is limiting the long baths or showers you take. An eight-minute shower can use over 20 gallons of water, which adds up over time.

One way to help here is to consider a low-flow showerhead if you haven’t already made the switch. These generally use far less water, to the point where an eight-minute shower only uses about 10 gallons.

Lawn Watering

During the summer, always water during the morning between 5 and 10 AM – this is when air is cold and evaporation is low, meaning you need to use less water. It’s also usually necessary to water only twice per week.

Running Water

Whether it’s doing dishes, brushing your teeth or any other task where people often leave water running, consider flipping it off. You’d be surprised the kind of savings this can add up to over time.

For more on avoiding water-wasting errors, or to learn about any of our residential plumbing services, speak to the pros at All Hours Plumbing today.