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San Diego Drain Snaking: 5 Warning Signs A Plumbing Problem Lurks

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You’re standing over the toilet. Your proud toddler just flushed the entire roll of toilet paper. You blame yourself; you encouraged him to “go potty” on his own and he did.

At best, you may find religion in this moment, praying to the plumbing powers-that-be that his #2 and all its accompanying toilet paper will find its way down. All the way down. “Please don’t clog,” you mutter.

Plumbing issues are not just potentially costly; they can shut a home down in a quagmire of literal muck. Fortunately, smart homeowners have the opportunity to prevent most issues with preventative maintenance while not dismissing the warning signs.

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One pesky toilet or shower drain clog can lead to bigger issues in your septic tank or sewer pipe fast.

Your San Diego plumbing service recommends drain snaking for drain cleaning, not just overflowing toilet clogs and other immediate plumbing (drain or sewer) emergencies.

To help, here are 5 warning signs of existing or imminent drain blockage:

1. A Slow Draining Pipe

This may seem like a no-brainer, but homeowners often fail to recognize a growing problem because a drain might literally drain progressively slower over time. A slow draining pipe may be a localized plumbing problem or suggest a bigger issue.

For example, the blockage might be something as simple as an issue with your garbage disposal failing. It may be a drain blockage in the base of the toilet floor drain. There are a myriad of possibilities.

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Store-bought drain cleaner might solve the problem, for now. A DIY drain unclogger might release the blockage, but you might not see the whole problem that a drain cleaning service could discover. These drain cleaners are also very corrosive on the pipes and regular use will eventually lead to pipe replacement. Anderson Plumbing, Heating & Air does offer an environmentally friendly, bio-degradable enzyme that can also help prevent future clogs (for use after drain has been cleared).

Trying to troubleshoot a slight clog or drain blockage, saves time, money and aggravation. Having to replace the Spanish tile floor in your Point Loma home because of plumbing issues stinks, in every sense.

Filling your sink or tub and then letting the water pressure help gravity push anything out is another maintenance suggestion. It’s good to do this once a month anyway, to encourage healthy water pressure in the plumbing drain system.

Make sure all solids are disposed of in the trash, rather than flushed or put down the kitchen sink. If water pressure is strong enough, the clog may clear itself rather than continue to become a bigger drain blockage.

If you don’t see results, it’s time to call your San Diego plumbing service to perform a comprehensive drain cleaning service and check your system for any deeper sewer drain clog problems.

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2. Funny Noises – Screeching, Hissing, Gurgling and Ticking

Your drain line should not sound like a horror movie. Sounds mean air in the system that shouldn’t be there.

It’s not a rattlesnake in your Del Mar home. These unusual sounds might be a clogged or blocked vent stack.

The vent stack is an often forgotten component of a plumbing, sewer and drain system. It is a pipe that extends to the roof, from the sewer system, releasing noxious gases and keeping water pressure moving freely out to the sewer line.

Cleaning the vent stack prevents blockage and negative pressure that restricts water and waste flow from your toilet, kitchen sink or shower drain. Don’t neglect cleaning the vent stack, since this might be the foundation of the problem.

Negative pressure and other clogs may create air pockets in the pipe system, which can be solved with a drain service such as a sewer jetter or drain snaking.

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Air pockets might also be created by a sink or tub trap. These get clogged with hair or food from garbage disposal waste. Getting under the sink and clearing this out might solve the problem

If the screeching and hissing persist, call for a drain service to help diagnose any serious plumbing problem.

3. Moisture and Musty Smells

Bad smells generally mean something is not good. Sometimes it’s your teenager’s gym shoes. Sometimes you forgot to take out the trash. Sometimes it’s your plumbing.

If you’re lucky, the problem is something as simple as an empty P-trap. The P-trap keeps a moisture barrier, preventing odor from coming backing into the home. Perhaps you were on vacation and the moisture in the trap evaporated in El Cajon’s summer heat.

An empty p-trap at kitchen sink

Running the water for a few minutes is an easy solution, as long as the water is flowing normally and not restricted. If the drain line is slow and water builds up in the sink, there may be a blockage further past the trap. Sewer and drain service might be required.

Moisture, dampness and dried water spots under the bathroom or kitchen sink suggest a leak that might be caused by excess pressure from a clog. Looking in basements and crawlspaces might identify other areas where pressure buildup from a clogged drain line is forcing water and waste out.

4. Water Bill Increase

Not likely related to your drains, but definitely a sign you have another plumbing problem, so we feel it’s necessary to tuck this in here…

When it comes to potential plumbing issues, your water bill might be the first sign that something is wrong. You might not have funny noises or really notice any low water pressure or other symptoms. At least not yet.

But, if your water bill is jumping up, it is probably a good time to have a licensed plumber come and do a plumbing inspection on your whole system, from point of use to the sewer line on the street.

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Once the plumber has a good view of a problem, such as a slab leak, he will review the repair options.

If plumbing fortune is not on your side, a section or all of your pipes might need to be repaired or replaced.

Note: if the problem is deemed to be at the sewer line off your property, contact your city sewer line department immediately.

Getting back to drain issues, the answer might be as simple as a hydro jet or drain snaking solution to deal with any minor clogs down the line.

5. Know the Age of Your Pipes

Older homes for instance, near Heritage Park, are more likely to have problems with older, deteriorating pipes compared to newer communities like Carmel Valley.

Your home has supply lines and drain lines. Sewed of PVC, copper, cast iron, brass or steel – or a combination of these.

Most metal pipes have a life span of up to 80 years with brass and cast iron even going up to 100 years. PVC pipes max out at approximately 40 years, with many needing to be replaced 25-30 years in or sooner.

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In terms of drain repair solutions, homeowners have many options: hydro jet drain service, drain snake and more in depth sewer cleaning. Providing details of your plumbing problem will help you get the appropriate service.

Is a drain snake a better choice than a hydro or water jet cleaning?

Your San Diego plumber will help you determine which of these is a better choice in your circumstances. But, keep a couple things in mind:

The age and fragility of your pipes is the first factor. While a hydro jet will flush more waste and debris out of the system than a drain snake, it may cause further damage to fragile pipes.

The drain snake, also known as an auger, is only as good as the width of the auger tip. So as the tip meets the main drain and then flushes out to the sewer pipe, the auger won’t get any wider, even though the pipes do. Thus, it isn’t always a complete fix.

If you have a newer pipe or aren’t concerned with root penetration, then a hydro jet maintenance is more a comprehensive drain service for a lower level plumbing problem.

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Is a plumber needed to do the job?

Maybe. Don’t be surprised if store-bought drain cleaner doesn’t resolve the issue. Next, you could buy or rent drain pipe auger tools at your local hardware store and give it a shot.

Keep in mind, a professional San Diego plumber not only has the right tools to get deep into the main sewer line if necessary, he is also trained to locate the clogs and work the snake for a more effective drain cleaning. We have specialists trained in video camera inspections and we provide a DVD to our customers.

Sewer cleaning inspection camera

So, while the drain snaking may not completely clear every bit of sludge and muck in from a main drain, a skilled plumber can take the snake from the toilet or kitchen sink and work through the most difficult areas where a DIY homeowner might get stuck and force the issue.

The last thing you want is to break the snake in a clogged section or put a hole in the fragile sewer drain, because you were frustrated and tried to force it.

What should I expect with a drain snake service?

If your plumbing prayers weren’t answered as you stood over your toddler’s toilet bowl soup and the water is about to overflow, you know you need help.

Do what you can to limit all other draining into the system until your plumber arrives. When he does, show him ground zero and allow him to fully diagnose the real problem, which might be bigger than a roll of toilet paper.

Anderson Plumbing, Heating & Air service technicians understand that life happens. Our technicians excel in customer service and will happily explain and show your toddler why he shouldn’t flush big items down the toilet.

Anderson offers standard rates 7 days a week from 7am to 7pm and are also available for you when life’s plumbing emergencies happen. Emergency service is available 24 hours, 365 days a year. Our family has been serving San Diego County for nearly 40 years. Let us help you.

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