Everyone knows what usually clogs a toilet. Fortunately, most cases can be cleared up with a minute or two of vigorous plunging. However, to remedy more difficult situations, you may need a professional to help you out. Here are the most common reasons why customers call a plumber for help unclogging the toilet.
Toilets are designed to carry away human waste and toilet paper. If you flush anything else, you increase the chance of something getting caught in the U-shaped trap or further down the drain line. Seemingly innocent objects such as cotton balls, facial tissues, paper towels, dental floss and feminine products don’t readily dissolve the way toilet paper does. To keep your plumbing running smoothly, dispose of these items in the trash, not the toilet.
It’s also common for curious children to place toys and other small objects in the toilet – and then flush it. If your child does this unbeknownst to you, the toilet may suddenly start clogging frequently because a foreign object is wedged in the trap. Make sure your children understand the toilet is not a toy.
Ample water and power are needed to clear the contents of a toilet bowl. If the flapper in the toilet tank doesn’t open all the way, the resulting weak flush could result in frequent clogs. Adjusting the chain or replacing the flapper should solve the problem.
First-generation low-flow toilets from the mid-90s are also prone to clogging. Newer versions are much more powerful while still conserving water. Consider replacing your toilet if it’s from this era.
Water with high mineral content can calcify, leaving deposits that eventually narrow the gap through which waste can pass. A quick fix is to flush out the toilet system with a solution that removes the mineral buildup. The long-term solution is to install a water softener.
Blocked Drain Vents
Plumbing fixtures usually vent to the roof so fresh air can replace the vacuum that forms when water drains. If bird nests, leaves or other debris block the vent, it can cause the toilet to flush in a slow, gurgling manner. The solution is to clear the vent opening on the roof.
Sometimes, the blockage is located further down the sewer line. Tree roots are a common culprit. If they rupture your sewer line, none of your drains will flow smoothly, and the toilet may back up often. You’ll need to repair or replace your sewer line to restore proper function.
Call a Plumber to Fix Your Clogged Toilet
When you’re fed up with plunging the toilet only to have it clog again, a plumber can help you get to the bottom of it. At Bob Hoegler Plumbing, we’ll eliminate the clog and diagnose what caused it in the first place. Only then can we offer a more permanent solution to your toilet troubles.
Water with high magnesium and calcium content is considered “hard.” Groundwater easily picks up these dissolved minerals from rocks and soil before it enters your plumbing system. 85 percent of potable water in the US is hard, which means it probably affects your home in Monroe Township.
Problems Caused by Hard Water
While hard water doesn’t pose any health risks, it causes plenty of other problems, including:
- Chalky residue: When hard water evaporates, it leaves minerals behind, creating unsightly white deposits known as limescale on plumbing fixtures, appliances and This residue is difficult to remove and even causes chemical reactions that limit the effectiveness of cleaning products.
- Soap scum: As if the mineral deposits weren’t enough, hard water prevents soap from dissolving completely, leaving a film behind in sinks and bathtubs.
- Clogged faucets and showerheads: The minerals in hard water build up in the tiny openings of faucets and showerheads, clogging them over time.
- Damage to plumbing and appliances: A buildup of limescale in your plumbing can reduce water flow and gradually decrease the pressure. Steel pipes are more susceptible to this than copper and PVC pipes. Minerals also damage the rubber washers, valves and seals found in plumbing fixtures and appliances, causing leaks.
- Decreased water heater efficiency: Deposits inside the tank impair performance, making your water heater work harder and driving up your energy costs. Limescale also shortens the life of your water heater.
- Dingy clothes: Hard water makes your clothes look dingy, feel scratchy, and stretch and fade faster.
- Lifeless hair and irritated skin: Showering in hard water causes minerals to build up in your hair, making it look dull and feel rough. A film also remains on your skin, allowing dirt and bacteria to linger and causing irritation for sensitive individuals.
Cleaning Hard Water Mineral Deposits
The key to removing chalky mineral deposits is to apply white vinegar to the affected surfaces. Try these tips:
- Lay vinegar-saturated rags on faucets.
- Spray sinks, tubs and shower doors with vinegar.
- Soak showerheads in a bowl of vinegar overnight.
- Run a cup of vinegar through the empty dishwasher.
- Run a gallon of vinegar in the washing machine with hot water.
- Run your coffee maker with the reservoir full of vinegar.
How to Prevent Hard Water Stains
While it’s possible to remove mineral deposits with a little vinegar, patience and elbow grease, prevention is always the best method. For instance, to keep the shower door looking nice, you should spray it with preventative shower cleaner or use a squeegee to remove water after each shower.
To overcome all the problems with hard water, you must install a water softener. This removes minerals from the source before water travels through your pipes, helping to preserve everything from the water heater and dishwasher to your clothes and hair.
For more useful plumbing tips, or to schedule services in Monroe Township, NJ, please contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing at 732-521-0133.
Tips to Extend Your Water Heater’s Life
No one likes a cold shower, yet few homeowners make water heater maintenance a priority. By taking the following preventative measures every six months, you can extend your water heater’s life and avoid the need to call an emergency plumber in the middle of the night.
Test the Pressure Relief Valve
This valve is designed to open if the pressure inside the tank gets too high. To test that it’s working properly, place a bucket under the pipe leading to the pressure relief valve, which should be labeled. Lift the valve and let a little water trickle out. Now, let go of the valve; it should snap back into place. If the valve sticks or continues to allow water to escape, replace it.
Warning: The water that drips from the valve could scald you, so don’t let it touch your skin!
Flush the Tank
Sediment collects on the bottom of the water heater, decreasing efficiency and eventually corroding the tank. A mini-flush every six months will help the appliance continue running smoothly.
To begin, flip the circuit breaker at the junction box to cut the power to the water heater. Then, close the cold water inlet valve.
Attach a hose to the drain valve, which is near the bottom of the tank, and run it to a floor drain or outside. Alternately, you can place a bucket directly below the drain valve. Turn the handle (or insert a flat-blade screwdriver into the handle-less stem) to open the valve. Open the pressure relief valve as well to help the tank drain more quickly.
If using a bucket, empty it outside or down the kitchen sink each time it fills up. Continue this process until the water runs clear.
Inspect the Anode Rod
Following the mini-flush, inspect the anode rod before you restore power to the water heater and open the cold water inlet valve. This is a small piece of metal that attracts the corrosive elements inside your water heater, preventing the tank from rusting. As the anode rod corrodes, it leaves your tank vulnerable. Occasionally replacing the rod prevents this.
Unscrew the anode rod, which is located on the top of the water heater tank. If it’s less than one-half inch thick or coated in a layer of calcium, replace it. Remember to wrap plumber’s tape around the threads of the new anode rod to ensure a tight fit.
Set the Temperature and Add Insulation
With the anode rod inspection complete, you can now restore power and open the water inlet valve to refill the tank. Set the temperature to an efficient 120 degrees rather than the standard 140 degrees. You can further promote efficient water heater performance by covering the tank with an insulating water heater jacket. Also, wrap pipe foam around the pipes leading to and from the water heater.