FOUR COMMON CAUSES OF BLOCKED DRAINS

When the drain from the house to the septic or sewer becomes blocked the cause is usually one or more of these four things.

  1. Accidental Damage: Damage of drain pipes in the ground can be the result of a couple of things.  It might have occurred during the backfilling of the home.  What might have been a hairline crack that can develop in a leak overtime.  Damage can occur when digging to install a fence post or a tree and being unaware of where the pipes are.
  2. Tree Roots: A common cause of blocked drains. Tree roots can manage to push their way into pipe through the smallest of crevices.  Roots can continue to grow, creating an obstacle or collecting points for fats and solids
  3. Grease and fats: One of the most common causes of blocked drains can come from the kitchen. Grease and fats have a tendency to build up along the walls of the pipes narrowing the way.  Even if the buildup is washed away through internal piping with hot water they can still contribute into creating a blockage if there are roots and other objects in the underground drainage system
  4. Undissolvable Items: This is probably the most preventable of all blockage issues. These are caused by items being intentionally or unintentionally being flushed down toilets and they will not dissolve.  They can range from toys to feminine hygiene products and disposable diapers.

The best ways to deal with these issues is to have a professional service and repair your pipes. Call our experts at Baker Plumbing, 403-279-7554 or contact us through info@bakerplumbing.ca

PROTECT YOUR BASEMENT THIS SPRING

Sump pumps are a great way to protect your home. Basement flooding can leave your home ruined, as well as your bank account.  A sump pump can help ensure that this issue remains a minor one, although, it must be properly maintained.

Short term cleaning can be completed every 3 or 4 months.  Clean the inlet screen and check the power cord for signs of wear and tear including rodents chewing through the cord.  Pour a bucket of water into the pump to confirm that the float rises and the pump turns on.

Once a year, remove the entire pump from the sump. Inspect for any issues and thoroughly clean. Do the same for the sump, if it needs oil or grease now is the time to do it .  Should it be time to replace it now is also the time to do that.

While none of this is too difficult you may want a professional to handle it.  Baker Plumbing has an excellent reputation for service and would handle your concerns with the expertise and commitment they are known for.

Call 403-279-7554, our phone line is open 24/7 or connect with us online

 

$50 Toilet Rebates from the City of Calgary

Toilet rebates

High-efficiency toilets protect our rivers, save water – and money. In addition to the $50 rebate, high-efficiency (low flow)toilets reduce your water use, which means you’ll save money on your monthly water bills. Replace your old water-guzzling toilet with a WaterSense-labelled toilet and purchase to be eligible.

For home, condo, trailer, and townhouse owners and tenants

One of the easiest plumbing home improvements you can do is replacing your old toilet. If you’re interested in doing some home renovations to your bathroom, we recommend switching from your old toilet to a Water-Sense labelled, high efficiency toilet.

When you make the switch, you could be eligible for a $50 rebate

In addition to our $50 subsidy, these toilets use less water which means you’ll see savings of up to $100 or more on your water bill every year.

Flush Facts

Recent advancements have allowed toilets to use 1.28 gallons per flush or less while still providing equal or superior performance. This is 20 percent less water than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. The WaterSense label is used on toilets that are independently certified to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only water–saving toilets that complete the certification process can earn the WaterSense label.

WaterSense Savings

By replacing old, inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models, the average family can reduce water used for toilets by 20 to 60 percent—that’s nearly 13,000 gallons of water savings for your home every year! They could also save more than $110 per year in water costs, and $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilets.

Nationally, if all old, inefficient toilets in the United States were replaced with WaterSense labeled models, we could save 520 billion gallons of water per year, or the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in about 12 days.

Apply for your rebate here?

To apply for a rebate for your new WaterSense toilet, simply visit calgary.ca/toilet

 

Spring is Prime Time for Plumbing Check-ups and Repairs

Spring is Prime Time for Plumbing Check-ups and Repairs

Spring is finally here and it’s time to make some quick checks around the house. Here are some quick and immediate plumbing tips for you to consider as the weather starts to warm.

By checking the bathroom, kitchen, appliances, equipment and more common areas, both within and outside the home, you can be prepared and help prevent any plumbing problems that occur. Just think of it as an extension of your spring cleaning project!
Check your drains, gutters and downspouts – which should be clear and free of debris to ensure proper operation. Many regions of the country experience a large amount of rainfall this time of year and you want to make sure you’re ready. If you let the debris build up, gutters and drains can clog, causing water damage, leakage and mould growth – not something you want to deal with!
Make sure your plumbing pipes and vents are clear of bird nests, leaves, sticks etc.

Check Your Hose Bib in the Spring

Check out the faucet for leaks – this is especially common in colder climates where hoses have been left on the hose bib for the winter. If the water supply pipe has frozen the once frozen pipe can be expanded and may have cracked. This pipe will leak and should be replaced as soon as possible before water damage can occur. This is something Baker can take care of!

Stop Flooding Check Your Sump Pump for Proper Function

The most important thing you can do to keep your plumbing system safe this spring is to make sure your sump pump is primed and ready for some hard work. If you have not seen to your sump pump (do not worry – you probably are not the only one), test it by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should kick on in a few seconds, allow the flow of water and then turn itself off automatically. If it does not do it, call Baker Plumbing and have the sump pump seen firsthand – before it completely burns out.

Other Plumbing Repair Tips

  • Check the faucet in the kitchen and bathroom for leaks. The improvements will help save water and money.
  • Make sure you have your filters on each drain. This is to prevent hair, soap and other substances that may block your drains.
  • Check your toilet for leaks. A fast and inexpensive way to do this is to put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If there is a leak, the food color will end up in the bowl within half an hour. While you’re at it, check out the bowl for any cracks or leaks.
  • Check your toilets to make sure they are flushing correctly. If you must hold or shake the handle, you need to replace the parts of the toilet which are responsible for flushing.
  • Check your water supply valve by turning on and off occasionally. This will prevent them from sticking.
  • Finally, clean your shower head with vinegar to remove mineral deposits that can clog. I know most people don’t know this little trick of the trade. Take a Zip Loc bag and fill it with white vinegar. Place the Zip Loc bag on the shower head in place and wrap the bag with a few heavy rubber bands securing the bag to the shower head. Leave for 24 hrs and the mineral deposits should breakdown leaving your shower clean as a whistle.

Completing this inspection now will prepare your home for the heavy rains of spring and will help you discover sooner and not later any damages caused by a long, cold winter.


 

Leaky sink making your life miserable?

Every home is bound to have at least one during its lifetime, and if gone un-checked, can cause serious damage to both your home and bank account. We’re talking about a leaky sink. Even if your sink is only dripping 10 times per minute, that can amount to more than 500 gallons per year! Not only that, it can be causing damage to your cabinets, floors and ceilings which could cost you even more money.  So, to help you save both time and money down the road, we’ve compiled some easy tips to help you identify and repair some common water leaks in your sink(s).

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Flashlight
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • Wrench (optional)
  • Caulking Solution (optional)
  • Caulking Gun (optional)

Identifying The Type Of Leak You Have

The first step to repairing any water leak is identifying the type of leak you have. There are three common areas where a leak can develop in and around your sink; leaks will occur around the rim, water supply and drain lines. Depending on both the severity and type of leak you have, you may or may not need to call a professional plumber to help you repair it.


Problem: The Rim Of The Sink – This type of leak is often caused by  either old/worn out caulking solution or a loose faucet base . To find out if this is the leak you have, take a sponge and soak it with water. Next, squeeze out the water from the sponge around the rim of the sink. Now, take your flashlight and look in the cabinet underneath the sink. If you see any drops or pools of water under the sink, you likely have a leak in the rim of your sink.

Solution: To fix this type of leak, all you have to do is either replace the bead of caulking solution or use a wrench tighten the faucet base.


Problem: The Water Supply Line – This type of leak is caused by a loose connection or hole somewhere in the supply line. Unless you’re a certified plumber, we’d recommend calling a professional to have it fixed. Though, you can always inspect the connections and supply line itself to see if that’s the issue. To do this all you will need is a dry towel. first, turn on the water to the sink and let it run for a minute or two. While the water is running take a dry towel and rub it along and around any connections in the water supply line. Inspect the towel after wiping each connection point to see if it’s at all damp. If so, you’ve likely spotted the loose connection in your water supply line.

Solution: Call Baker Plumbing and have them inspect and determine just what needs to be done to repair the line.


Problem: The Drain – This leak is often attributed to a leaky joint, slip nut, ring nut or strainer under the sink. To test for this, fill up your sink with water. Now, open the drain and allow the water to drain out of the sink. As the water is draining take a dry towel and flashlight and wipe all the connections along the drain line. If at any point you find water on the outside of a connection, you’ve likely found a water leak.

Solution: Try taking a wrench and tightening any loose connections you may have. If this doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll need to contact Baker Plumbing for further assessment.

Toilets and Plumbers PB&J

A warm welcome to Spring/Summer it is wonderful to feel the warmth of the Sun and see the flowers and trees starting to bud. It makes one glad to be alive.

That said I want to chat quickly about toilets. There is no doubt that toilets and plumbers seem to go together like PB&J. Where would modern society be without the invention of the toilet and modern plumbing?? Imagine sitting in a high level meeting and needing to excuse one’s self to use a bucket or worse yet run out to the outhouse. I may be basis but the start of modern society began with a bathroom upgrade. So why is it that we treat our bathroom fixtures so poorly?? We have found everything from old style pagers.

Pager

To several rolls of toilet paper flushed all at once.

The Big Flush

In fact this picture above shows someone trying to flush a roll of brown paper towel. Folks that is not going to happen.

Although we appreciate the business please think before you decide to flush. Not everything disappears after you flush it.

If you happen to be the victim of someone’s careless flushing, give us a cal 24/7 we’re to get things moving again.

All the best!!

Baker Plumbing

Alberta Septic Fields/Tanks and Freezing

Question#2: How do I keep my septic field or tank from freezing?

Thanks to Martin for asking this question.

A septic system is a highly efficient, self-contained, underground wastewater treatment system. Because septic systems treat and dispose of household wastewater onsite, they are often more economical than centralized sewer systems in rural areas where lot sizes are larger and houses are spaced widely apart.

Alberta Septic Tank Installation

Septic systems are also simple in design, which make them generally less expensive to install and maintain. And by using natural processes to treat the wastewater onsite, usually in a homeowner’s backyard, septic systems don’t require the installation of miles of sewer lines, making them less disruptive to the environment.

A septic system consists of two main; a septic tank and a drain-field. The septic tank is a watertight box, usually made of concrete or fiberglass, with an inlet and outlet pipe. Wastewater flows from the home to the septic tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank treats the wastewater naturally by holding it in the tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The wastewater forms three layers inside the tank. Solids lighter than water (such as greases and oils) float to the top forming a layer of scum. Solids heavier than water settle at the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. This leaves a middle layer of partially clarified wastewater.

The layers of sludge and scum remain in the septic tank where bacteria found naturally in the wastewater work to break the solids down. The sludge and scum that cannot be broken down are retained in the tank until the tank is pumped.

The layer of clarified liquid flows from the septic tank to the drain-field or to a distribution device, which helps to uniformly distribute the wastewater in the drain-field. A standard drain-field (also known as a leaching field, disposal field, or a soil absorption system) is a series of trenches or a bed lined with gravel or course sand and buried one to three feet below the ground surface. Perforated pipes or drain tiles run through the trenches to distribute the wastewater. The drain-field treats the wastewater by allowing it to slowly trickle from the pipes out into the gravel and down through the soil. The gravel and soil act as biological filters.

The use of septic fields goes back a hundred years or so. The first ones were very simple holding containers that would eventually leach into the ground. I even saw a septic tank made out of an old car (I wish I had pictures of it). Anyway the tank and piping of a septic tank usually are not buried very deep. Typically between 18″ to 36″ for the pipe and 6′ to 8′ for the bottom of the tank.

As long as the tank is being used you should have no problems with the tank or lines freezing. The bacteria that break down the effluent (poo and other assorted materials) create quite a bit of heat which keeps everything toasty. I couple of rules to remember though.

  1. Keep all traffic off the drain line from the house to septic, the septic tank and field. That includes foot traffic, horses, cars, anything with weight to it that can drive the frost further into the ground causing freeze ups
  2. Straws bales can be your best friend. Piling bales over the tank and building sewer can further insulate the lines and protect them
  3. Keep your field manicured (cut the grass). This helps aid the transfer of gases that the bacteria create to the atmosphere and will keep your field fit and operational

Some Do Not’s

  1. Do not add anti-freeze, salt or a spetic additive to system
  2. Do not pump sewage to the surface
  3. Do not start a fire over the system to unthaw
  4. Do not run water continually to unfreeze

A typically system looks something like this.

Alberta Septic Tank Installation

Some of the restrictions for installing a septic fields are outlined here.

Septic tank installation set-backs

Clogged Shower Drains in Calgary

Unclogging a Slow Shower Drain

Clogged Shower Drain Calgary

Everyone has had that moment: standing in the shower, washing your hair, when suddenly, water is up to your ankles. A drain clog! Hopefully not as bad as our picture above. Typically, a buildup of hair, by itself or combined with bath product gunk, is to blame. In this situation, many reach for the Drano. Instead of turning to harsh chemicals that might damage the finish of your tub or eat away at your pipes, try looking to some simpler (and possibly more effective) solutions first.

Before any tools or concoctions make an appearance, try sticking your fingers in the drain. If the hair is up near the top, this might be all it takes to fix the problem. You’d be surprised at how effective fingers can be as a hair removal apparatus. I doubt it if it will be as obvious as below!

Hair Ball Clog

There are two tools you can try if you can’t fix the problem that way, one of which you already own, and one that you can buy at the hardware store for under ten bucks. The first is a plunger. Try using it just as you would on a toilet, and see if the clogging culprit comes to the surface in the drain. The second is called a Drain Claw, and it is essentially a piece of wire with barbs on the end for catching hair. Stick one down the drain, twist it around a few times, and pull it out. Repeat until you stop pulling out hair, and run some water to test whether the clog is gone. You can even try to make your own out of a metal clothes hanger and go do some fishing.

Drain Ring

If the clog persists, it might be time to move on to a homemade clog-busting concoction. Pour one part baking soda down the drain, and follow it with one part vinegar. That’s right- the same as your kid’s model volcano. Wait until the foaming subsides, and follow that with boiling water. This method is effective when bath product gunk, rather than hair, is the problem.

I’ve added some pictures of typical plumbing system so you visualize what’s happening under the floor.

Drain Drawing

Drain Drawing 2

Whatever you do, don’t add nasty chemicals that can potential melt your pipes or destroy appliance finishes.

Draino

After all this, if your shower is still not draining properly, it’s probably time to call in the pros. Baker Plumbing can handle any clog you throw at us, quickly and professionally.

Give us a call at 403-279-7554 or book online.

Plugged Toilet with Poo

Some of the Craziness – Graphic Content

I thought we would compile some pictures of some the crazy, weird, and frankly nastiness we have come across this year. So sit and enjoy, well maybe prepare yourself some of these pictures are not for the faint of heart.

I repeat, some of these pictures are not for the faint of heart.

#10 – The Rip Off

Bad Plumbing

This one is awesome. This poor lady hired a licensed plumber to install this sink for her, she was charged $1700 and the plumber claimed that the inspector approved this installation. Of course she wasn’t home when the inspector supposedly showed up. There is so much wrong with this I can’t even begin to point it all out.

#9 – The Egg

Bird in Roof Top Unit

Yes, that is an egg by the power feed! The request for service was that the roof top unit is making a funny sound. Well, somehow a family of pigeon made their way into the unit and built themselves a little home. All was well until the thermostat turned the unit on.

#8 – Squirrel Cage

This one is of the actual squirrel cage. No explanation needed!

#7 – Greasy Business

Grease Trap Not Working

We’ve shown this one before but it’s a good one. This picture is of a 8′ deep man hole that is now full to the top with all sorts of nastiness.

#6 – The Bong

The Bong Found

Its always amazes me the stuff you find in peoples storage room, mechanical rooms, etc.. All the places the public normally doesn’t go. If my wife would allow it I could take pictures of the thousands of ladies that are plastered all over the walls of these same rooms.

#5 – Bath Time!

Bath Tub Toilet

Anyone feel like taking a bath? Is there really anything nastier than a tub full of poo?? Anyway, look away if you can’t take it.

#4 – Enough Fittings

Too Many Fittings

How many fittings does it take to go around a pipe? By this guy’s math-6-Awesome!

#3 – Explosive Expansion

Blown Expansion Tank

The power of water and cold weather.This little expansion tank was blown to bits and caused quite a little stir when it flooded the restaurant.

#2 – The Classic

Plugged Toilet with Poo

The list wouldn’t be complete without the classic plugged toilet. Although this one shows someone needs more fiber!

#1 – Meow

Cat Dead in Furnace

This one is both nasty and tragic. Poor cat went into the furnace to stay warm and I’m sure enjoying his new found until the furnace motor started. No doubt it ended quickly.

As you can see it was an eventful year! Check this blog often or follow us on Twitter to keep abreast of the wild and wacky world of Baker Plumbing.

Until next time!!

Grease Traps – The Nastiest of all Plumbing Jobs

If you’ve ever been involved with the restaurant industry, hospitality game or sort of maintenance gig then you’ve probably run across the dreaded grease trap. If you have no idea what we’re talking about then stay tuned.

A grease trap is a vital component of your commercial or industrial plumbing system. Designed to protect the common sanitary system of malls, commercial buildings, and even cities. Without diving into the good and bad elements of the North American diet, it goes without saying that most of the most we eat contains various types of fat. In fact, fat or lye type products are a part of everyday life. Whether its cooking, cleaning the dishes or cleaning the floor, fat or fat type products makes it taste better, look awesome, and clean it up better. That fat causes very little problem while it is warm and liquid the trouble begins when it begins to cool down and solidify. Once it does that it can become a menacing problem for the operation of the restaurant, hotel, or whatever industrial operation it effects.

How does it work? In its simplest form a grease slows the water flow down to allow the “grease” products to float to the top of the chamber while allowing the water to flow underneath. That grease accumulates at the top of the grease trap until eventually it is cleaned by removal. I’ve included a picture here of a typically trap that we at Baker Plumbing have installed hundreds of times. While there are many different styles and types of traps. This unit provides a simple look at how it works.

Grease Trap Restaurant Calgary

As with all mechanical devices its important that there are maintained properly. We suggest that your grease trap be cleaned no more than every 3 to 4 months. Doing it more often prevents the trap from doing its job effectively and can potentially cause more harm than it solves.

We thought it would be applicable to add a couple of pics of what can happen if your grease traps are not maintained or heaven forbid not installed at all.

Grease Trap Restaurant Calgary

Above is a picture of a city manhole and Yes! they are typically 6 to 8 feet deep in Calgary. So what you’re looking at is 8 feet of grease. We were able to get this looked after for this client but if the city got involved they would be looking at quite possibly a $20,000 bill.

Grease Trap Restaurant Calgary

This one is of a grease trap inside a restaurant that was actually installed backwards. Long story short the lid blew off and the grease filled the entire pit. Not very nice. We were able to make the necessary repairs and so far neither this location nor the one with the manhole problem has had any further issues.

If you have questions about your grease trap or concerns about its operations. Give us a call at Baker Plumbing and we’d be happy to ensure everything is as it should be. Till next time!

Give us a call at 403-279-7554 or book online.