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General Plumbing FAQ

We take many conveniences of modern life for granted – especially our plumbing. We are fortunate to have a system that whisks wastewater away from our property and keeps our home clean and healthful. But when something goes wrong with your plumbing, you are at risk of sewer backups and overflows that bring waterborne germs into your property. How can you prevent this worst-case scenario from happening, and what are your options if it already did? Read on for some of our most frequently asked questions about plumbing.

How do I know if I need plumbing repair?

Sometimes, the red flags that you need plumbing repair are obvious, such as a slow drain or lingering sewage odors around your property or yard. However, in many cases, a sewer problem can exist for years before it becomes clear that you need professional repair work. Here are some more subtle signs you need to call a plumber.

  • You have noticeable water damage, such as mold or mildew growth.
  • Your water bill continues to increase, despite the fact that your monthly water usage has remained consistent.
  • One section of your yard is unusually lush and noticeably healthier than the rest.
  • You have noticed a substantial drop in your water pressure.
  • You have ponding water in your yard.
  • Your pipes are making unusual gurgling noises.
  • Cracks have formed in your home’s foundation.

What causes plumbing clogs?

Clogs form due to an accumulation of material on the interior walls of your pipes, which gradually restrict the diameter of the pipeline until water flow becomes increasingly limited. Bathroom drain clogs are typically a mix of hair and soap scum, while kitchen drains get clogged thanks to cooking grease and food scraps. Meanwhile, toilet clogs happen when people flush things other than human waste and toilet paper, such as condoms, diapers, kitty litter, paper towels, feminine hygiene products and moist towelettes. Even if you are extremely cautious about what goes down your drains, you are still at risk of a clog from circumstances that are completely outside your control, such as tree root invasion and mineral buildup from water.

What effect do roots have on my pipes?

Plant and tree roots can several severe effects on any sewage or drain system. These roots instinctively seek out any sources of moisture and nutrients, which are both abundant in your sewer pipes. Once these roots have broken into a pipe, or grown through a pipe joint, they can begin causing the pipe to drain slowly as they grow thicker and thicker. Eventually, out-of-control root growth will lead to a total blockage. Early treatment from a drain cleaning professional is the best way to resolve this issue.

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What is safe to put down my garbage disposal?

Despite its name, do not treat your garbage disposal like a trash can. Tough, fibrous foods like celery, artichokes and potato peels get caught between the blades of the disposer and cause buildup trouble in no time. Here are things it’s OK to put down the disposal: ice cubes, dish soap, soft food, non-greasy liquids and water. To avoid plumbing clogs and keep your disposal working in tip-top shape, never overload your disposal with food scraps, and avoid pouring cooking oil down the drain. Instead, transfer the oil to a container and dispose of it.

Can I fix my plumbing problem myself?

Even if you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, it can be a mistake to try to repair your plumbing yourself. For one thing, it’s unlikely you have all the tools on hand to do the job properly. For another thing, it can be dangerous to take on complex repair tasks on your own if you lack the necessary training. Watching an hour or two of YouTube videos is no substitute for the knowledge and experience a professional plumbing technician accumulates throughout their career. Without the tools and training to do the job right, you could end up causing even further damage that would cost you more to get fixed than you would have paid if you had called a pro in the first place.

Why should I choose a licensed and insured plumbing contractor?

Professional plumbers go through years of specialized training to make sure they can properly handle any job that comes their way, and that their work is up to all local codes. Meanwhile, insurance helps protect you and your property from liability if any damage occurs. For your peace of mind, it’s always best to choose a plumber that has attained licensure and insurance. Given the specific requirements that state licensing holds for plumbers, you don’t want to trust these services to a general handyman or amateur for risk of a job done poorly, or additional damage beyond what necessitated your repairs in the first place.

Do I need a video sewer line inspection?

Video camera inspections are the quickest and most effective way to determine the source of any sewer problem. If your pipes are clogged in a place that is not visible from the surface, or if you are experiencing frequent clogs and backups, it is a smart idea to have a video inspection performed to determine the problem and solution to clogged drain lines. You should also get a video inspection as a proactive measure if you are considering a home renovation that affects your plumbing fixtures, or before completing the purchase of a new home.

What does a video camera inspection entail?

During a video camera inspection, our technicians will insert a small, waterproof camera into your plumbing system, and remotely guide it through the full length of your pipes while viewing its progress on a monitor. The camera records a high-definition video feed that allows us to spot any flaws in the pipes, including clogs, cracks, pinhole leaks, corrosion and deterioration. We can record the precise location and depth of any problems we detect, as well as any minor issues with the potential to develop into more severe complications in the future.

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How often should I get professional drain cleaning?

At Affordable Plumbing and Heat, we believe there’s no such thing as being too proactive with your home maintenance. We recommend scheduling professional drain cleaning – often in conjunction with a video sewer inspection – annually, even if you are not experiencing any signs of a clog. Remember, clogs can lurk within your pipes for a long time before you begin to notice something is wrong. Drain cleaning is a smart preventive measure to add to your regular home maintenance checklist.

What should I do if my drain is severely clogged?

If we determine that your drain has a stubborn clog, the team at Affordable Plumbing and Heat will often recommend hydro-jetting to clear it out. The hydro-jet is a specially designed machine that relies on the power of water pressure to clean plumbing clogs efficiently. The water scours the interior walls of the pipes, removing built-up residue and debris. The hydro-jet produces a stream of highly pressurized water that is even strong enough to power through tough tree roots, breaking them up into small pieces that wash harmlessly away into the municipal sewer line, and leaving your pipes in mint condition.

What do you recommend if I need sewer line repairs?

Many property owners dread receiving the news that their plumbing issue is severe enough to merit repairs, but modern plumbing techniques and technologies have improved to the point that we can offer you trenchless repair options. That means we can rehabilitate and repair your pipes without having to perform a full pipe excavation. There are many advantages to this technique, including the following.

  • Preserves your property values: You won’t have to worry about a plumbing project that detracts from your curb appeal by creating a deep trench in your yard. Trenchless plumbing allows us to repair pipes from the inside out, using an innovative resin that seals itself to the interior walls of your existing pipeline. This approach is known as cured-in-place pipe lining, or CIPP.
  • Shorter turnaround times: Long, disruptive plumbing projects are a thing of the past when you go trenchless. We can complete a no-dig plumbing repair in a fraction of the time as we could with a traditional pipe excavation.
  • Less mess and stress: After we finish our repairs, you won’t get stuck with an expensive landscaping bill. There will be significantly less disruption and inconvenience in your life, and you will be able to go about your daily activities as usual.
  • Environmentally friendly: Because trenchless repairs use less heavy machinery, they have a smaller impact on Mother Earth. You also won’t have to worry about releasing toxic chemicals into the groundwater, which is often an undesirable side effect of a full pipe excavation.

What are my options if my sewer line is collapsed or corroded?

Sometimes, pipes are too fragile and compromised to merit a cured-in-place repair. In these cases, we have another trick up our sleeve: trenchless pipe bursting. With this method, we insert a conical bursting head into the damaged pipe and use it to fracture the pieces outward into the surrounding soil. At the same time, we guide a new pipe into the same cavity created for the original sewer pipe. The process takes place almost completely below ground, eliminating the need to dig up and replace the sewer line.

I have older pipes that need to be replaced. What should I do?

Though plumbing systems are designed to be long-lasting, they won’t last forever. If you live in an older home, your plumbing pipes may be made of outdated materials like Orangeburg or galvanized steel, both of which are known to deteriorate as they age. If your home’s construction dates back to before the turn of the 20th century, you could even have lead pipes, which present a clear health hazard. Replacing pipes is another situation in which trenchless pipe bursting can be a highly effective approach.

How do I know if I have a plumbing emergency?

Not every plumbing problem necessitates calling for emergency service. Some issues can wait until the plumbing company resumes business hours again. The most important determination of whether you have a true emergency on your hands is what will happen if you wait to get the issue fixed. For example, if a burst pipe is flooding your basement with gallons of water that will cause long-lasting damage to your wall and floors, that is an emergency. Or, if your toilet has overflowed and you have raw sewage in your bathroom that can make you and your family sick, you need to call a plumber, even if it is 2 a.m.

What are some consequences of putting off plumbing repairs?

Aside from the obvious costs associated with water leaks making your plumbing fixtures less efficient and causing your monthly water bill to skyrocket, there are often even more serious consequences associated with leaving plumbing problems unaddressed. For example, excess moisture in your home can lead to the growth of mold or mildew, which will pollute the air you breathe and cause severe respiratory issues. Ignoring sewer line issues can lead to even worse hazards. What may begin as an unpleasant sewer smell can transform overnight into sewage backing up into your home – which introduces all kinds of harmful bacteria into your living space. You can never afford to ignore plumbing issues not only because they damage your home, but because of the effect they can have on your family’s well-being.

Do You Have Sewer Issues? Call Your Locally Owned Pros Today

Make Affordable Plumbing and Heat your first call when you have a sewer leak, backup or any other issue you want us to investigate. We offer 247 emergency service in the Colorado Springs and Denver metropolitan areas, and our licensed, bonded and insured professionals have more than 250 years of combined experience in the industry.