Are you experiencing an issue with your Ottawa home’s drains but don't know where to start? Some issues are an easy fix whereas some call for the help of a professional. It's best not to confuse the two, so here's what you need to know.
When a plumbing emergency arises in your Ottawa home, it’s likely that you’ll reach for the phone to call for a plumber to come to the rescue. But not all plumbing issues become a state of emergency immediately - there are various signs and issues that come up to signal that something isn’t right. As a homeowner, you need to have the proper knowledge to figure out whether the symptoms your home is experiencing are easy fixes that you can resolve on your own or whether it’s time to call in the big guns to prevent disaster from striking. Here’s everything you need to keep an eye out for in order to make the right decision.
Types of Issues You Can Experience
First, let’s take a look at what we typically see going wrong in the homes of our clients. Your drains can really take a beating whether it’s from improper homeowner use or external factors. There are, unfortunately, plenty of things that could go wrong and result in drain damage.
The most common culprit is the drain clog. Most often, a clog is caused by putting the wrong things down the sink or flushing harmful items down the toilet. Usually this is simply a result of a lack of knowledge of what your drains can handle. They are actually quite sensitive and can’t accept things like food, grease, hair, floss, wet wipes and foods that continue to expand in water (like rice or pasta). Grease hardens along the walls of your pipes due to the cooler temperatures, hair and floss entangle themselves, wet wipes don’t dissolve and a grain of rice will become the size of a small coffee bean when exposed to water for long periods of time. Now combine these things and you’ve got yourself a tricky drain clog. A very obvious sign that you’re experiencing a clog is if your toilets are flushing much slower than usual or if you’re experiencing any standing water in your sinks. Some other telltale signs of a clog in your drains is gurgling in your walls - this indicates that water is having trouble passing through the pipes - or foul odours coming from any of the water basins in your home.
It’s also possible that when your home was being built or the pipes were being installed, they weren’t placed together in perfect alignment. This results in misaligned pipes and can cause serious issues over time. Not only can this result in water seeping out of the pipes and into your lawn but it also can cause cracks in your drains. This means that waste water is flowing out into all the wrong places. In the summer, take a look at your grass and check if any of it is particularly long and lush (a little bit of waste water can act as a fertilizer) or if you see any yellow, soggy patches (caused by too much waste water).
Often times when pipes are cracked (for example due to misalignment), it creates room for roots to settle in your pipes. This is an especially likely scenario if you have trees around your home that do well in a wetter environment. The roots of the tree will sense that abundance of water seeping out of the drains and draw their roots into the pipes themselves. Can you imagine what might happen next? Any items flushed down your toilets or sinks are more likely to entangle themselves around these roots, eventually resulting in a very serious clog. Forget your trusty plunger in this scenario because it’ll take a little more work to clean out a drain pipe experiencing this problem.
Did you know that the harmful chemicals homeowners might turn to in order to dissolve a clog can actually corrode drain pipes? If you pour a harsh liquid down your drains but it doesn’t end up dissolving the clog, that means it’s sitting in your pipes much longer than you intended it to. The result of this? Corrosion. There are also other ways that drains can corrode and one of them is simply a matter of time. Water usually carious various types of minerals that form deposits on the walls of your pipes and will cause them to corrode over decades. So if you’ve lived in your home for many years without taking a look at your drains or aren’t sure how much care the previous owner took of the plumbing, you may be experiencing drain corrosion due to the age of your pipes. Whatever the cause may be, if your pipes have become corroded you might have to endure some flooding in your home or lawn. This is harmful as wastewater contains exactly that - waste. It should therefore be flushed away from your home, not enter it. Otherwise, it will pose a health threat for you and your family.
Ways to Repair Drains
To the various issues mentioned above, there are numerous solutions that can be applied. Some of them can be performed by the homeowner while others require industrial tools and the skills of a licensed plumber.
What are some things that you can try on your own first? Usually, the only issue that can be solved fairly easily by the homeowner is a clog. Some things that you might be able to try are plunging out the clog. What some of our clients never realized before speaking with us is that you can use a plunger for your sink as well - it’s not limited to your toilets alone. So give this a try first - it’s the most classic yet effective method. You can also try pouring a few litres of hot water into the problematic drain. You might have to repeat this several times but it can be very effective in melting away a drain clogged by grease (grease hardens in your cool pipes and melting it is one solution to help it move out of your drains). You can also try a combination of vinegar and baking soda which bubbles and has the ability to eat up an obstruction in your drain. A manual hand snake, although a little bit tedious, can remove your clog just as well. This is a small tool that’s inexpensive and worth investing in to tackle a smaller clog on your own.
If you aren’t sure that the issue is caused by a clog or you’ve already tried the above solutions on your own and can’t seem to get your plumbing back in working order, it may be advantageous to view the problem with a plumbing camera. Mr. Rooter Ottawa licensed plumbers have the technology to show you what exactly is causing the clog in your drain or whether it’s not a clog but another issue. The camera that we reel down to meet the problem head-on can reveal misaligned pipes, cracks, roots or any other obstructions. This eliminates the guessing and can save you plenty of time and money so it’s certainly something to consider.
It’s possible that a certified plumber will find a very problematic clog in your drains that you weren’t able to flush out on your own. If this is the case, then we will reach for our industrial grade plumbing snake, also known as an auger. We reel the powerful cord down into the clog which twists its tip into the obstruction and then we pull it back out. A clog can also be cleaned out by jetting it with water. This is a high-pressure wash with powerful water jetting equipment that can completely clean out the walls of your pipes and ensure that the clog has no choice but to get flushed away. This method will give you peace of mind that the clog hasn’t only been removed but leaves absolutely no residue behind. This means the clog won’t be as likely to reform in the same area.
If you’re experiencing something as serious as misaligned pipes or a crack, it can call for more substantial repair. You may need to completely replace your pipes if the damage is truly extensive. Unfortunately, if this is the case it results in plenty of time and expense to repair because it includes excavation. Your landscaping may have to be recreated, grass replaced, and the whole process might take weeks.
It’s not all bad news, though. Drain damage to such a serious extent is really quite rare and there is a much more affordable and quicker (yet long-lasting!) solution to the issue of a damaged pipe. What a professional plumber can do for you is provide your drains with pipe lining. With this method, a plumber will douse a tube of felt pipe lining with epoxy resins and hardeners. This allows the felt material to be totally malleable while it’s being reeled down into your pipes but will harden to industrial-strength once fully dried. The felt lining gets blown with air in order to help it attach to the walls of the previous piping. The end result? A new lining along the pipes hardens into a durable pipe of its own, covering any cracks or misalignment leaks for years to come. The pipe lining method is extremely effective - when used with the right products and administered by a trained professional, you could have peace of mind for decades.
Clearly, drain repair can be costly and stressful for a homeowner. Although various repair options do exist, we cannot stress enough the importance of regular plumbing maintenance. Be sure to keep food, hair, floss, grease and wet wipes away from your drains. Incorporate a monthly drain cleaning routine into your home care schedule. We recommend using an eco-friendly bacterial culture cleaner that won’t corrode your pipes. The good bacteria enter your drains and eat up any residues that could build up over time and result in a clog. Lastly, have a plumber take a look at the state of your plumbing every few years - this is a fantastic preventative method which can uncover and prevent an almost-disaster.
When it’s Time to Turn to a Professional
To summarize, if you’re experiencing slow flushing toilets, standing water, gurgling in your walls and bad odours coming from your sinks or toilets it’s possible that you are experiencing a clog that can be resolved with the use of a plunger, hot water or cleaning products. If you have a manual plumber’s snake at home, you can also give this a try to pull out the obstruction in your drain.
We recommend that you try these home solutions before giving your plumber a call. They certainly won’t make matters any worse and are worth the effort. Home solutions are quite simple and can save you the expense of calling on a professional. If, however, you’ve tried resolving the issue on your own and the problem hasn’t subsided it’s quite possible that you’re experiencing a more serious complication. This might be anything from a nasty clog to extensive pipe damage. There’s really no way of knowing until a professional plumber takes a look at the situation - especially one of our Mr. Rooter Ottawa certified plumbers who can submerge a camera directly into your drains to identify the problem with complete certainty.
Our Mr. Rooter Ottawa certified plumbers are more than happy to help you in your time of need. Give us a call any time! We know that an Ottawa plumbing emergency doesn’t wait for a more convenient time, that’s why we are open 24/7 to serve you - whether it’s in the middle of the night or on a holiday. All of our skilled professionals are fully licensed and trained in dedication towards our clients. Experience the Mr. Rooter difference today!