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- Nick's Plumbing Q&A 6-21-18
Drain and Sewer Line Stoppages
Nick's Plumbing Live Video Transcription:
Hey guys, Richard, John Eccles and John Eccles. We are back today live discussing drains and sewers. Today we are in our new location. We've actually moved out of the basement. So this is great. It has the feel upstairs and mom's bedroom. How does this feel? It's actually really nice. This is our new world headquarters located on Durham. Next to the office, out of the basement. It's good to be out of the basement or was it the closet? Both. Either. Okay. So today guys, again, topic drains, sewers, take it away. Okay. Um, we're going to talk about an issue that, uh, actually comes. We get this all the time. We get it from every location in the city, whether you're from the Heights, whether you're from the Meyerland area of Montrose, Bellaire, West University, um, all those areas. We get tons of calls and tons of questions about stoppages and now is a great time to talk about it with the rain coming in.
Typically when it rains heavy, a lot of stoppages tend to occur and a lot of people might be thinking, why is that? Why, when it rains, what? I have some stoppages and we'll get into that. Let's start very basic, right? There's several different kinds of stoppages that can happen in your house. Um, you have both two inch and four inch drain lines. Some are even three, but predominantly let's just keep it simple two & four , your lavaratories right? Are two inch or tublines are two inch, uh, in those normally get stopped up with more hair gunk, soap, scum, um, anything else? I like to use the word coagulate. Big Word of the day. That's right. Coagulation your hair products that you go coagulate together with your hair. I can't say it and you can see what happened to my hair. It all went down. I think you mean coagulate.
Yeah. Anyway, so that probably happens in those two inch lines. Now your kitchen line also two inch, uh, gets a lot of attention from grease, right? Food product being put down maybe without a disposal or not a great disposal. Um, and again, you get that buildup and that something that happens over time, it can be a very tricky stoppage at some point. Um, when that happens, right, you have a bunch of different ways to get it cleaned, right? The most popular way is sewer snakes. You can have it jetted with a jet machine depending on, uh, if the company that you choose has that option, right? Uh, the, the stoppage that we want to talk about today, uh, is your main line sewer, which is going to be the area of your home where all those lines in your home, at the edge of the house get taken from there to the city sewer, which is going to be your personal sewer line.
Uh, so those stoppages just happened when, you know, a good sewer line will not stop up if you don't have an issue, right? Or, pvc line. Yeah, if you have a pvc line, normally will be good and it won't stop up. Um, but in these areas that we talked about, this are all older areas of Houston and man, they're just riddled with old clay and concrete. That was the type of material that they used to build those old sewer lines in those homes. Uh, and if you, if you're fortunate enough to still have one of those, meaning that you've saved thousands of dollars because, uh, those lines probably should have been taken out what, 20, 30 years ago. I mean, there are absolutely on their end of their shelf life, they're at a point when we like to say it's not, you know, if you're going to have a problem just when, just when I'm now for the time being that those types of pipe were great.
But now pvc has just taken the world by storm. It's absolutely the goto plumbing material for sewer lines, right? It's very durable, lasts a long time and it's a fairly inexpensive to manufacturer. So what kind of material, if I'm a homeowner in the Heights or Montrose, West U, River oaks through Memorial, what kind of material is my sewer line going to be made of either concrete or clay? Most likely. And again, those are a man three decades past their shelf life. You know, they'd done a really good job and they've lasted. But it's, if we come out there and we look at all, uh, hopefully it's in good shape. And we don't have to have an issue, but if we're out there and you've got that kind of material, again, a good sewer line doesn't stop up. Probably very seldom do we go to a customer's house where now there are customer inflicted stoppages, right?
You know, we have been in homes where customers have put stuff down their sewer line that. Just don't go down a sewer line. I like a diaper diaper. Hey, that's not meant for sewer. A bath towel believe it or not, you know, so we pull all sorts of things out of there. Um, those are customer inflicted to stoppages. Those can happen, but not very often. Most of the time we're out there because, oh my God, I got, you know, stuff coming up in my bathtub is coming up out of my commode when I flushed my commode, it comes up my tub. That's a typical, um, what sort of looking for a typical conversation that we haven't our customers inflicting customer mainline stoppage. And when that happens, normally, uh, when we come out, obviously any company would, they'd unstop it. You know, Nick's has the ability to do a camera and inspection of the sewer to see what's going on inside, as should any reputable company, if you're usable and you'll be able to see what's going on.
So what kind of things can happen with a main line sewer that the main lines who are that could cause issues, right? So you got separations where the pipe actually at a joint will dislodge and come separated. You have tree roots which had some big fun wind, right? Tree roots infiltrate, especially concrete lines where the joints weren't really tight, sealed, I guess you could say. They can penetrate those and really get in there and cause a big problem. You have bellies where the earth has moved and the light hasn't quite broken, but it'll sag and create a deficiency to where your aligners. Remember where this is all gravity fed stuff. There's no pressure behind it, so you have to have enough pressure for that water to hit and push out the other end. Well, if you don't, stuff builds up at the bottom of that belly and before you know it, you'll start having some.
Some stoppages in there anyway when all this stuff happens, you know, and you have someone come out and then they figure out what's going on. It's got to be solved. Right? So, so how do you solve a sewer stoppage where there is one of those bigger issues, you just can't clean it. It's not customer inflicted. We're going to come out and we're going to take a look at it. How do you solve that? Good question. And there's an easy answer, right? Uh, if you have, like we were talking about in the Heights, Meyerland, River Oaks, Memorial, and West U, Bellaire, right? If you're talking about those areas that have that older pipe, um, a lot of companies will come in and they'll just be like, hey, you need to get rid of it. And that's not a bad recommendation. That's really not us. We want, you know, it depends on our customers, right?
Wouldn't you agree? You know, we're going to do it best fits them. Sometimes you can repair it, right? Meaning we just take out the infected area. If it's just one spot and we just spot repair, that one area or of course will always give the option of taking care of the whole thing and that way you don't have to deal with it ever again because a lot of times stoppages and just just like any other plumber problem, they never happened. Whenever you want them to happen, they happen whenever you least expect it and you don't need it. The APP and you know, just like everything else in life, right. Happens when you just don't want it to happen and nobody wanted Harvey to come. Right. It just happens. And when it does, you deal with it. Well, you know, when you're dealing with the company, we're a resolution company, I believe, you know, as are, I'm sure a lot of the other companies have, but we want to give you a resolution that's going to take care of your needs.
You know, a lot of companies with best fits you best you. So either a repair or replacement, if we can repair will tell Ya. If you can't, you can't. Yeah. And we like to give you the option. You're the customer and you make the decision, we'll do it either way, but those stoppages in. So going back to the weather, right, we started out with that. Why? When it rains so much, does it cause more sewer stoppages? Right. Well, a couple of reasons. You got that old pipe, right? What does soil do when it gets water? It absorbs and what's the weight of that soil do? I'd increases exponentially, right? It goes from a pound of dirt to eight pounds of dirt, right? In the same area. So now you have a lot more weight on those older pipes. So if they're in that inflicted area where it might be time to get it or you know it's starting to give that extra weight just totally.
Oh yeah. It definitely. It definitely lets you know that there's an issue. Then you have some where there's already a a break, right. And maybe that that soil was almost acting as like a natural, a top or bottom of the pipe. Well, now that water hits it, it loosens it up and what happens that earth falls into your sewer and then what ends up happening is you have a stoppage and you know, we hear it all the time. We get phone calls all the time. I got dirt in my bathtub backing up into my bathtub well there That tells you pretty much you got to break somewhere in your sewer line and it's backing up in your tub, allowing that dirt to wash absolutely pushed back into the cover of the shower. Absolutely. But, um, I mean, that's, you know, when it gets to this time a year, that's just a big deal for us. You know, we get on high alert, you know, we, we know that it's coming. The rainy season always does it. Um, you know that. Go ahead, I'm sorry. So let me ask you a question. Let's switch gears for a second. Let's talk about these products that you can buy in a big box store, right? I have a stoppage. Let's say my kitchen stops up and you go to a big box store and you buy a chemical thinking it's going to fix the problem. Is that a good idea?
We wouldn't recommend it. A lot of those chemicals are acid based. Right? Which you don't want to put in your pipes for one. Is it going to fix my issue? Um temporarily right. It's not going to fix it permanently. It's not going to do it. I mean, it's going to get you out of a jam, right? It's going to be a mandate. Would you put a bandaid on a broken arm? I have. So, I mean, it didn't work out after. It's a quick fix. It's a quick fix that can get you out of a jam, but the problem's going to come back. It's not a solution it's definitely not a solution. It's something that can give you a quick remedy for the short term, but it's not a longterm solution. Obviously, if it's late at night and you need some sort of relief, uh, could you use it?
Absolutely. Do you still need the call someone to come take a look at it and see what the real problem is and get absolutely you need to do that. So I, I would like to add to that, okay. That people aren't aware of. So if you go to the big box store and you buy one of these products and it's like John said, it's either going to be alkaline or acid based, right? You got that on each side of the scale. It's actually dangerous for us to perform the job that people just do not think about. You dump this product into your kitchen sink or into your bath tub or into your shower. And then we are never told that you actually did that. And we'd go in and we run a cable machine. Well, that cable machine has high torque from the small machine all the way up to the large machine and it's spinning pretty fast.
And uh, it can actually spin that a product that you bought on the US, uh, into our clothing, eyes, ears, whatever, could actually get in behind the glass as it could do some things. Plus, it hurts our equipment and I can't tell you countless times we go to somebody's house and they don't even think about telling us and we put ourselves in danger every single day and nobody tells you. You say that years ago, a little testimonial story about that exact situation. Customer didn't tell us we had a technician out there home and I carry, it was an acid base and for whatever reason I wanted to. I'm thinking battery acid but it seems silly that someone would do that, but you'd be surprised. Anyway, they put an acid base, a chemical down their drain and the plumber leaned over to look at it and when he inhaled it, heart his lungs, he actually had to go to the doctor and get it checked out because of the, a chemical burn on his lungs.
Now he ended up being okay, but I mean that was a quick little one too. What if he were to cut into the pipe underneath and would've got on him? Yeah. That happens quite often and nobody understands how often this does happen. Um, those chemicals do admit and if you get too close because you want to see something just like he did, it could actually permanently burn. Absolutely. And you might not recover from that. Yeah. So I mean if you are going to, if you are in a situation where you are going to do that for whatever reason, definitely follow safety procedures, follow the directions and it doesn't work. Make sure until the company that you hired that hey, this is what I did. Inform the person. That's exactly. There is no way for them to know that occured. And that happened. Absolutely. Now here's what I would call you. Don't put it down the kitchen sink if you want to try that, try it down the shower or tub only. Those products are more meant for hair and accumulated soap products and it really helps those, the best versus food. So I would stay away from the kitchen but we see it all the time in the kitchen and in our area is like Meyerland and Bellaire and West U, River Oaks all those areas. Heights, we have cast iron pipe and if you put it down the kitchen sink a, it starts eating that pipe.
Yeah, and starts beating it up from the outside in and inside out on me. So it is definitely the season for that. So be on the lookout. Maybe these tips can help you all recognize what's going on in your home so early. That way it doesn't become a big issue and maybe I'll can catch it early. Yeah. Thank you Jennifer. Today. No problem here to help call on with the questions. John and I are always here. Seven, one, three, eight, six, eight, nine, nine. Oh seven. Whether you hire us or not, we will help you. Absolutely. See you next week. See you next week.