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Ask Our Roto-Rooter® Plumber

Do you have a question about plumbing or drain cleaning? Maybe it’s one of our most frequently asked questions listed below? If not, call or email us and one of our plumbers will get back to you with an answer (usually within 24 hours). If it’s an emergency call by phone, we will try our best to have a plumber or drain cleaning technician call within 30 minutes from their cell phone.

Most Frequently Asked Questions at Roto-Rooter®:

Question: You were out here a year ago and cut roots from our sewer line. It appears to be back again. Did you do a good job? We didn’t have any problems for 20 years until last year.

Answer: Yes, we did. It may take 20 years before you have a problem. However, after roots get into the joints of your pipe, they can be cut out but will grow back. It works on the same principle as grass growing up in a crack in a sidewalk. You can cut it off at the top of the walk but the root is in the crack and will grow back.

Question: At the front of my house, my sewer cleanout keeps running over even when we aren’t running water.

Answer: This is a sign that the city sewer in the street is clogged and that you are the low home on the line right before the clog. As homes up the street above you use their line, it will run over at your cleanout. Water will seek its level. Call your city sewer department.

Question: How often should I have my septic tank pumped?

Answer: Every 4 to 5 years, depending on your family size. Large families more often; but tanks should be pumped out even if you are not having a problem. This is normal maintenance.

​Question: I have a foul odor coming from under my house. What can I do to eliminate this odor?

Answer: This could possibly be a broken pipe letting sewage spill onto the ground. Many times it turns out to be a dead animal that got under your home. Call us, or if you want to check it yourself, take a flashlight and crawl around under your house and check for those things. One other thing we have seen is rats or mice dying in the walls after eating a poison. This will only go away with time.

Question: I’m getting a foul odor from a bathroom, in our basement or downstairs bathroom. We hardly ever use this bathroom except when we have company. This is embarrassing. What can we do?

Answer: Plumbing systems are designed to prevent foul odors from entering the home by means of the trap attached to fixtures. Traps contain water to seal out foul odors; if the water seal evaporates, the odors enter the house. To solve this problem, run or pour water into every sink, shower and floor drain. This will prevent the odors from entering the home.

Question: I am hearing a whistle sound, then a water sound that seems to be connected to the plumbing system. It comes and goes at times; but I can’t find the cause of it. What could cause this?

Answer: The sound you are describing is usually caused by a toilet fill valve that is slowly leaking. To locate the leaking toilet, remove the lid from each tank and adjust the fill valve mechanism until it stops. Once you have found the toilet causing the problem, repair or replace this fill-valve. If this is happening, you may have noticed an increase in your water bill.

Question: The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than what I think I need. How can I conserve energy, yet also be sure that there is an adequate amount of hot water?

Answer: Most people are comfortable with their hot water set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also the new standard that manufacturers use when pre-setting it at the factory. If you have an older model, set the thermostat at medium. On a gas model, there is a dial on the front of the gas valve. On electric models, the thermostats (there may be two) are concealed behind the two panels on the side of the tank. NOTE: Turn off the electricity before removing the panels. There are exposed wires behind the panels containing HIGH VOLTAGE.

Question: We need to replace a toilet in our home. We have heard coworkers and friends complain that the new toilets do not flush properly, and that they require multiple flushes. What is the recommendation for toilet replacement?

Answer: When the federal government mandated that new toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, manufacturers had to develop a toilet that would achieve this but that would also flush properly (clear the bowl) and carry the waste to the city sewer or septic system. Some of the early models didn’t do this properly. Since then, the complaints have forced the manufacturers to develop new ways of flushing toilets. One new way is the use of a pressurized toilet tank. This model looks like a regular toilet, but it has a pressure tank inside. When flushed, it works like a commercial toilet. A large surge of water enters the bowl and clears the bowl of any waste. These toilets work well, but are not as quiet as a conventional model.
When considering a new fixture for your home such as a toilet, we recommend that you choose a fixture made by one of the major manufacturers, such as American Standard, Kohler or Eljer.

Question: There are four people in our house, two adults and two teens. We are constantly running out of hot water. After a five-minute shower, the water starts to turn cold. This change occurred quite recently. Help!

Answer: There are two possibilities. First, the dip tube has broken off. This is a tube that forces incoming water to the bottom of the tank so that hot water will be drawn off the top. When the dip tube breaks, cold water entering the tank mixes with the hot water and cools it down. This can occur in both gas and electric models. Second, if your water heater is electric, the lower element that heats the water may not be operating properly, thus only the upper half of the tank will heat up. The cause of this problem could be a bad element or a thermostat malfunction. A qualified technician should evaluate this type of problem.

Question: When I am in the laundry room and the water heater is operating, I hear a rumbling sound coming from the water heater. What could cause this?

Answer: Rumbling sounds coming from a water heater are an indication that sediment is built up on the bottom of the water heater. What you are hearing is water that is trapped in the sediment and is boiling. This is an indication that the water heater is not operating efficiently. Sediment will not allow the heat to transfer to the water in the tank, which sends the heat up the flue.
You may try draining a few gallons of water off the bottom of the water heater tank. This is done by attaching a drain hose to the valve at the bottom of the tank. Allow it to drain for about five minutes.
Warning: Hot water is dangerous. Discharge the water into a floor drain, laundry tub or bathtub. Hot water will kill your grass if discharged onto the lawn. Hot water will crack a toilet bowl if discharged into a toilet.
Many new models of water heaters have a new feature that prohibits the buildup of sediment in the tank. If your heater is an older model, it may be cost effective to replace the water heater if the buildup is severe.