Common Causes for Clogged Drains During Holidays

Thanksgiving dinner with American-African family preparing dinnerAre you cooking during this holiday season and entertaining guests in your home? If so, you are more at risk than at any other time of the year for clogged kitchen drains, toilet back-ups, or clogged main sewer lines in addition to other plumbing issues. But, you can stack your odds to avoid the expense and inconvenience of these plumbing problems by following these “Do” and “Don’t Do” tips:

  • Start regularly pouring a mixture of dish detergent and lukewarm water down your drains.
    When you are finished cooking (or cleaning – as in the case of bathroom drains), pour about half a cup of dishwashing detergent down your drain. Then pour lukewarm water down the drain. This should help dissolve grease so it doesn’t build up in your drains.
  • Woman Washing Fork in Kitchen Sink

  • Don’t ever pour grease down your drains.
    As tempting as it is to do while you are busy cooking, don’t pour grease down any of your drains. Grease, fat, and oil congeal into a substance that absorbs anything you put down the drain and eventually causes a clog that blocks it. To avoid this, pour your cooking fats into a can that can be resealed and disposed of in the garbage.
  • Throw most food debris in the garbage – not down your garbage disposal.
    Many foods can clog your drains and immobilize your garbage disposal blades. These include potato peels, pasta, eggshells, corn husks, rice, bread, bones, fruit pits, fibrous fruits and vegetables, and coffee grinds. Always dispose of them in your garbage, not down your drains. That is not the intended purpose of a garbage disposal.
  • Don’t flush any paper or clay items down the toilet – even if they are labeled as being “flushable”.
    Items other than toilet paper flushed down your toilet cause clogs in the appliance – either immediately or over time. Many people make the mistake of flushing feminine hygiene products, hair, cotton balls, dental floss, paper towels, Q-tips, cat litter, and tissues. The result is often a clog in the drain connected to their toilets. This is an avoidable problem.
  • Kitchen waste recycle

  • Regularly clean your drains’ overflow openings.
    In many homes, these connect to “pop-up” assemblies that also need to be cleaned regularly. Pop-up assemblies are a system of drain stoppers that can be manually moved up and down to seal a sink bowl or bathtub; they get clogged with soap and hair on an ongoing basis. Cleaning the overflow openings that connect to them reduces the chances of this occurring. To do this, first close the pop-up system. Then, fill your sink or bathtub with water so that it is just above level with the overflow opening. Next, pour a cup of bleach into the water and allow your faucet to run for about 10 minutes.

FloHawks Can Help

We know that clogged drains and other plumbing problems during the holidays can often present a challenge and additional stress. These issues are often avoidable but when they occur, they should be handled quickly and professionally. Get back to enjoying your family and friends, call FloHawks and our team will take care of your plumbing issues this holiday season and all year long. Use our convenient online scheduling tool to schedule your appointment or call us today at (800) 356-4295.

Tips for your Septic System During Thanksgiving Gatherings

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Whenever you have a number of guests in your home at the same time, plumbing issues may arise due to the capacity of your plumbing and septic system. This is because the system was designed to accommodate a certain number of people over a defined period of time. Problems can arise when you have more people using more water than the system can accommodate which can happen often during your Thanksgiving gathering. When this happens, it can definitely put a damper on your event in your home.

Here are some tips on how you can diagnose and fix some of the common problems that can occur:

  • Septic Tank Alarm Going Off
    This can happen when more water than usual is being used over a short period of time. Extra added water in the tank may cause the system’s float to rise and trigger the alarm. If your system is on a timer, push the silence button and then don’t use much water over the next 24 hours so that the system can reset and the alarm light will deactivate. The reset involves the system syncing again with the pump so it starts to filter effluent into the drain field again.
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  • Kitchen Sink is Clogged
    These backups often happen due to food preparation and dishwashing. If food and grease flow into your drain and build up, your pipes clog and the result is a backup in the sink. First, place a plunger over the sink’s drain and have a rag handy to help clean up any residual water. Move the plunger up and down multiple times but don’t lift it off the drain. If your sink is still clogged, your p-trap may be malfunctioning. The device should be clearing your line and allowing the water to flow out. Clear the device and your sink should unclog. If this doesn’t work, call a professional plumber. At FloHawks, we can remove and clean the traps. Our technicians can also cable the line with a snake to clear the pipes. Don’t use drain cleaner because it can be toxic to septic systems.
  • Toilet is Backed-up
    Use a plunger or toilet auger to clear the backup. If this doesn’t work, a professional plumber can simply remove your toilet and clear or remove anything that is causing the clog.

If these don’t work then FloHawks Can Help

We know that plumbing problems during family gatherings especially with Thanksgiving can present a challenge that should be handled quickly and professionally. If these DIY methods don’t do the trick, give us a call or schedule an appointment online. Our team of professional plumbers will be happy to help with any residential plumbing or septic system needs.

Why is my toilet leaking at the base?

leaky-toilet

If there is water around the base of your toilet, you likely have a toilet leak. Stop using the toilet immediately because the water that has leaked onto your floor is from the used water in your toilet bowl. Not only can this water damage your flooring and cause mold if left sitting for a long period of time, but it can also create a health hazard in your bathroom if not cleaned up thoroughly with disinfectant after the leak is fixed.

You may be able to fix the leak yourself by tightening the toilet’s tee bolts and/or replacing its wax ring:

Tightening Tee Bolts

At the base of your toilet, you will see the plastic caps which cover the tee bolts that hold your toilet in place. If these become loose or broken, the toilet’s seal may break and may become the source of a leak. If they are loose, position your toilet so it is centered and level, and then tighten the bolts. If you are unable to tighten them, the bolts may need to be replaced.

Replacing the Wax Ring

If your tee bolts are tight but you still have a leak at your toilet’s base, you may need to replace its wax ring. First, take a photo of your toilet’s base. Then visit your local hardware store and ask for help to identify the ring you need.

When you are ready to replace the ring, shut off the water flow to your toilet using the valve located behind it. Flush the toilet to remove as much water in the bowl as possible. Then, place a bucket under the valve to catch any overflow that may happen when you unscrew the nut holding the valve in place. Next, remove any remaining water from the toilet’s base by plunging it a few times.

The next step is to unscrew the toilet’s water supply line and remove the tee bolts from the floor so that the toilet can be lifted and moved. Once you set the toilet down on its side, you can easily remove its wax ring and any accompanying residue before placing the new ring over the toilet’s flange. Secure the tee bolts in place and put your toilet back in its place.

Reinstalling Your Toilet

Once the toilet is in the correct place, push it onto the wax ring so that it seals. Tighten the tee bolts, reconnect your water line, and turn the valve back on. Flush the toilet to test for any leaks. Caulk around the toilet’s base as a best practice to ensure that water from elsewhere in the bathroom doesn’t get under its base and cause odors and mold.

FloHawks Can Help

We know that toilet leaks present an immediate challenge that must be handled quickly and professionally. With years of experience, the FloHawks team of professionals is ready to assist with your plumbing needs. To have your peace of mind restored and your toilet professionally repaired, give FloHawks a call anytime at (800) 356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service tool, which allows you to set an appointment that fits your schedule.

Creating A Jack O’Lantern For Your Home

At FloHawks, we decided to celebrate Halloween by carving a pumpkin using an image inspired by our company logo. Follow the steps below to create your own jack o’lantern masterpiece.

  1. Choose a pumpkin
    When you’re picking out your pumpkin, think about what shape might work best for your design. A pumpkin with a smooth front sometimes works best for carving in larger artwork. The shape of the pumpkin may even help influence the design you want to make.
  2. jack2Prepare Your Pumpkin
    With a sharp knife, cut a circle around the stem at an angle to the center. This will be the lid. After that, use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds from inside the pumpkin. We suggest putting down a drop cloth or newspaper for this step to make cleanup easier.
  3. jack3Trace Your Design
    The easiest way to transfer your design to the pumpkin is to print out your design on paper and then tape it on. Follow the design lines with a rotary tracing wheel or use an awl or thin screwdriver to make holes along the design lines about 1/8-inch apart. Remove the stencil pattern when you’re all done tracing it. If you would rather freehand your design, we suggest using a washable marker so you can wash off your lines once you’ve made your cuts.
  4. jack4Start Carving
    There are several different types of tools you can use to carve your pumpkin. We recommend using a pumpkin carving kit that you can get at a store. The tools in the kit are specially designed to cut and shape your pumpkin. They are safer to use than kitchen knives as well.
  5. jack5Get Creative
    After you carve the shape of your design into your pumpkin, try getting a little creative by just removing the pumpkin skin on some parts of the design. This will add depth and variation in color.
  6. jackLight It Up
    Depending on where you plan on displaying your freshly carved pumpkin, you can either light it up with a candle up using a tea light OR a battery powered LED light. Then, step back and enjoy your new piece of pumpkin art!

Tips to Prevent Clogged Drains

Kitchen sink
Because clogged drains are such a common problem, it’s generally not a surprise when they happen – usually at the most inconvenient moments. What may be surprising is that there are a number of things you can do to avoid having clogged drains in your home that can lead to more serious plumbing problems. These tips apply to homes connected to a sewer system.

Take Proper Care of Your Garbage Disposal
Although it may seem that you should be able to put any kind of food down your kitchen sink’s garbage disposal without causing a problem, that’s not actually the case. Any sort of fibrous foods, including celery, asparagus, artichokes, chard, kale, lettuce, potato peelings, and onion skins should be kept out of your garbage disposal, as well as meat, poultry and fish bones. In addition, don’t put coffee, bread, eggshells or uncooked pasta or rice in the disposal. The damage these foods can do includes jamming blades and causing pipe blockages.

You can also help preserve your disposal by making certain that you set your faucet for cold water and keep a steady amount flowing into the disposal while it is in use. Cold water flushes out any debris that is in the disposal and carries it out efficiently through the pipes.

Maintain Your Drains
If you don’t have a garbage disposal, never put food, grease, or oil down the kitchen sink drain. All of these substances will almost certainly cause clogs immediately or over time. To clear out any food that finds its way to your drain, pour boiling water down it once a week.

For all your home’s drains, consider using drain screens. They prevent large amounts of food, soap, hair and other materials that easily cause clogs from entering your pipes while still allowing water to flow through properly.

clogged-drain2Wash Pets Outside
Whenever possible, wash pets outside to avoid excessive hair and dirt from clogging bathtub drains. If you need to wash them inside, use a large bin for them to stand in while they are in the tub to trap hair and other debris and make sure that you have a stopper in the drain during the process.

clogged-drain3Only Flush Toilet Paper
Although many products such as paper towels, cat litter, baby wipes, diapers, and feminine hygiene supplies are labeled as safe to flush down the toilet, the truth is that they can cause unwanted buildup and clogs when flushed down the toilet. Because these products do not disintegrate like toilet paper, they should not be flushed into your sewer system. To avoid plumbing issues, we recommend that the only paper product that should ever be flushed down your toilet is toilet paper.

FloHawks Can Help

We know that clogged drains present an immediate challenge that must be handled quickly and professionally. Our experienced technicians are ready to assist you with any issues related to your clogged drains.

Call FloHawks anytime at (800) 356-4295 or use our convenient scheduling tool which allows you to set an appointment that fits your schedule.