Monthly Archives: July 2017

Drain Cleaning Basics

Think about how much time you spend sweeping your floors, dusting the mantle, wiping down the countertop. Now think about how much more nastiness goes into your drains. Don’t they deserve the same love? We offer state of the art draining equipment (with video cameras!) to ensure we get out all the gunk. We work with kitchen drains, main sewer lines, shower/bathtub drains, toilet drains, floor drains, and bathroom/sink drains. If you’re looking for a Kansas City drain cleaning service, you’ve come to the right place! This guide will give a breakdown of the different types of drains, tools needed for drain maintenance, and ways you can prevent drain blockage. We’ll also give you some signs to look for, so you can tell if your drain is in need of cleaning or de-clogging.

kansas city drain cleaning

Types of Drains

Kitchen drains are most susceptible to blockage from grease, soap and food waste. Main sewer lines connect to a city sewer line or septic tank. Water-seeking roots can clog main sewer lines, so we go in and cut away all the roots to ensure your drain doesn’t become re-clogged after we’re finished. By cleaning your sewer and drain regularly, you ensure it doesn’t become clogged in the first place. If you notice that your shower/bathroom drain isn’t immediately sucking up the water in your tub, soap or hair may be to blame. With toilet drains, a clog may develop when you attempt to flush facial tissue, baby wipes, or other non-disintegrating products down the toilet. We use a special plumbing tool to hug the inside of the pipe wall and clear out the mess. Floor drains in basements, laundry rooms, garages, patios, driveways, etc. might have a drain to carry away water and prevent flooding. The trap inside prevents odors and sewer gas from escaping, but drains should still be regularly cleaned. For bathroom sink drains, slow draining might be due to toothpaste, soap, hair or grime. If you want to know the exact cause of your blockage, ask a Kansas City drain cleaning expert.

Essential Tools

Plungers, which run anywhere from $5-$10, are the bread and butter of plumbing. If you need to dislodge clogs further down the pipe, a cable auger or plumber’s snake is going to be your best bet. These are long, flexible steel cables that are wound around a spool and fitted with a hand crank. A cable auger is available up to 100 ft., but 25ft. is adequate for any home clog. A closet auger allows you to snake out toilets and is equipped with a hand crank. What makes it unique is that the cable is encased in a rigid shaft instead of a spool. The auger is also bent at a specific angle to make it easy for it to slide through the tight curves of a toilet trap. If worse comes to worst and your you still can’t unclog your toilet with these tools, you can rent out an electric power auger for $15-$30/day.

Floor drains (pictured below) carry wastewater from central air conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and snow-covered cars. Since they collect a lot of soap scum, laundry lint, sand and slimy bacteria, these things can crystallize in a long drainpipe. To penetrate these blockages, an electric power auger will probably be needed with at least 50 feet of cable.

floor drain

If you need us to come out and clear out your floor drain, we’ll begin by removing the strainer that covers the drain hole. Once we find the clean-out plug on the side of the drain basin, we’ll remove it with a wrench. We’ll be able to bypass the trap and feed the cable directly down the pipe. We may have to snake the cable through the trap if the drain doesn’t have this plug. Once we plug in the power auger and position it near the drain, we’ll feed the cable down the drainpipe and set the motor for clockwise rotation. We’ll step on the switch, and the cable will start turning. Then, we’ll push the cable into the pipe until we notice some resistance or heat. Upon resistance, we’ll stop the motor and reverse the rotation. Once we’ve backed out a few feet of cable, we’ll switch back to clockwise rotation and slide more of the cable down the pipe. We’ll repeat this procedure until your clog has been eliminated! To finish things off, we’ll retrieve the cable and flush out the drainpipe with hot water. We’ll be sure to replace the clean-out plug afterward.

Signs of Blockage

Besides the obvious issues draining, you can also detect a clog by overflowing toilets, water backing up in drains, or an unpleasant smell. If water is coming up from a pipe outside the home, this is also an indication of a blockage. Most homes have cleanouts (pictured below) on the exterior of their homes, which serve as an access point to the main drain line. Cleanouts are necessary for if you have a stoppage—you can easily unscrew the cap on the cleanout to ensure the waste discharges outside your home. Another great perk is that you can easily clean the line. You can clean from the outside of your home rather than picking a toilet up and snaking it that way. When water is escaping from the cleanout, there may be a main line stoppage or your septic tank may be full.

clean out

If water is coming up in the home, that’s another sign of drainage problems. You’ll notice this when you flush your toilet and the water rises in your bath or shower. More often than not, this is due to an obstruction in the bathroom drainage branch. When the water has nowhere to go, it’ll funnel into an open drain. This will most likely be the shower, because it is the lowest fixture. Normally, the toilet just needs to be pulled and snaked. This is an instance where a camera might be used by a Kansas City drain cleaning professional.

How Drains Work

Unlike supply systems, drainage systems aren’t reliant on pressure. Waste moves via pipes that pitch/angle downward. Gravity does all the work for you, saving on energy. When you’re installing a pipe, you should make sure it has a drop of ¼ inch per foot to get the proper pitch. The sewer line flows into a sewage treatment facility or a septic tank.  For this process to work, vents, traps and clean outs are needed

Vents pop up from the roof of the house and allow air to enter the drainpipes, making it possible for wastewater to flow out properly and the water in the traps to leave. They’re held by roof flashing, which is made from heavy grade rubber, lead or sheet metal.

Traps are located under your sink and are identified by their curved or S-shape. When water flows from the basin, it has the force to go through the trap and out though the drainpipe. However, enough water sticks around in the trap that it creates a seal to stop sewer gas from escaping into your home.

parts of a drain

Your kitchen sink might also have a grease trap that collects any grease that may cause clogging. These typically have clean-out plugs for easy removal or breakup of blockage. Though you may be able to see them most easily under your sink, they’re also on toilets. Toilets are self-trapped though, so they don’t need a trap at the drain. This whole system is often referred to as DWV: drain-waste-vent. For Kansas City drain cleaning, we have to have a thorough knowledge of all these parts and what their function is.

Prevent Blockages

Blockages in your garbage disposal are fairly common, so it’s important to know how you can keep your drains clean and working properly. For one, you should run large amounts of cold water whenever the disposal is running—start the faucet before the food hits the drain. You should also limit the size of the food scraps you’re sending down the garbage disposal. To avoid blockages ad unpleasant odors, don’t put these items down the drain:

  • Bags (paper or cardboard)
  • Paints, nail polish, and nail polish remover
  • Acidic or caustic substances
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medication
  • Fats, oils and grease
  • Coffee grinds
  • Egg shells
  • Produce stickers
  • Disposable diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towels
  • Flushable cat litter

Contact Us

If you’re looking for Kansas City drain cleaning, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us, so we can send a certified expert to take care of the problem. Our plumbing services include a variety of fixes, such as faucet repair, garbage disposals and sump pumps. Check out our tips to avoid costly plumbing repairs so you don’t have to deal with fixes in the first place.

How to Kill Mold

It’s that time of year again when conditions for mold to grow and fester in your home are at an all-time high. Mold survives on mold spores, a food source, darkness, warmth, oxygen, and moisture (water leaks, humidity). In the right conditions, mold can start growing in 24-48 hours. Since humidity is most prevalent in the spring/summer, right now is the ideal time for mold growth. If it rains for several days in a row or you live in a naturally humid environment, mold may start to grow on the walls and benches without you even noticing. This guide gives a breakdown of mold causes, mold locations, types of mold, and the benefits of UV germicidal lamps–the ultimate mold killer.

Mold Causes

Lack of ventilation may contribute to your home’s humidity, since moisture in your house isn’t evaporating.  If you plan on using a humidifier in your house (possibly to help with asthma), try to keep the humidity below 55% to prevent mold. When high humidity creates puddles of water and damp materials, these surfaces can create mold. Mold might also be caused by leaking pipes, so check behind objects and inside walls to make sure leaky pipes aren’t the culprit. The roof may also be the cause of your mold. Roofs that leak into the attic can go months without detection, so it’s important that you keep an eye out for any signs of water damage on the ceiling.

mold causes

Besides leaks, condensation is also another factor to look out for. Cold surfaces (metal pipes, concrete floors) create condensation in your home, heightening the chance for mold to develop. Wet clothes can cause mold due to the moisture they release, so it might be better for you to hang up clothes to dry outside. If a dryer isn’t vented outside, you also have to deal with the humidity released for your dryer machine. Flooding is a no-brainer. If you experience flooding in your basement, the likelihood of mold developing multiplies. Some types of toxic molds (like Stachybotrys chartarum—see below) require more extreme conditions, like several days of extreme wetness. Floods are normally the #1 cause of these more dangerous molds.

Common Mold Locations

Basements are a breeding ground for mold due to their high amounts of moisture, lack of ventilation, and lower temperature. Plus, water that leaks into your home will most likely make its way to the basement due to gravity. Since many don’t spend too much time in their basements, this mold growth can go unnoticed for a long time. Check your house’s foundation for mold as well. Water can build up in the yard around the base of your house, especially if the ground slopes toward the house. Ditches and drains are a good solution to this problem, or you can just deal with the problem when it happens with mold killer.

Mold Sensitivity

According to the Department of Health, children, those with respiratory conditions, those with sensitivities (allergies/asthma), and those who have severely weakened immune system (HIV, chemotherapy patients, etc.) are the most likely to experience severe reactions from mold.

Types of Mold

Alternaria: This type of mold is typically found outdoors, but it might also pop up in showers or under sinks with leaky pipes. Keep an eye out for this mold in buildings that have suffered water damage or experienced recent flooding. It spreads quickly and can cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

Alternaria mold

 

Aspergillus: An indoor mold, this type causes allergic reactions, respiratory infections, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It creates very serious effects, such as the inflammation of lungs.

Aspergillus mold

 

Aureobasidium: This type of mold will most likely show up outdoors. If it is inside, you’ll find this mold on wooden surfaces, wallpaper, and painted surfaces. Damp window frames and caulking may also be a breeding ground for this mold. Look for mold that is pink and black.

Aureobasidium mold

 

Botrytis: You’ll find this type of mold in rooms with poor ventilation and high humidity, like bathrooms. Side effects are allergic reactions and asthma.

Botrytis mold

 

Chaetomium: Characterized by its musty odor, this mold type festers on drywall, carpets and window frames that have undergone water damage.

Chaetomium mold

 

Cladosporium: Common in homes, this type thrives in warm and cold climates. Check for this type in fabrics and on wood surfaces. You’ll notice respiratory problems galore with this type of mold.

Cladosporium mold

 

Fusarium: This mold can grow at lower temperatures and spreads best in water-damaged carpeting and fabrics. It can cause allergic reactions and respiratory infections. Those with compromised immune systems are especially prone to infection from fusarium exposure.

Fusarium mold

 

Penicillium: This mold attacks materials that have been damaged by water and is characterized by how fast it spreads from room to room in your home. It can cause allergic reactions, chronic sinus infection and inflammation of the lungs. It will typically be blue or green. This mold should be dealt with by mold killer immediately.

Penicillium mold

 

Stachybotrys chartarum: Known by its scarier name ‘black mold’, this type of mold produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins. When exposed to mycotoxins, people experience health issues like breathing problems, chronic sinus infections, asthma attacks, fatigue, and depression. You’ll know you’re dealing with black mold if you notice a musty odor and mold growth in places that are consistently damp, such as air conditioning ducts.

Stachybotrys chartarum mold

 

Trichoderma: Similar to black mold, this mycotoxin-producing mold can cause several health problems. Since many people are allergic to it, you’ll start noticing symptoms right away. This mold is normally found on damp carpet, wallpaper and other wet surfaces.

Trichoderma mold

 

Ulocladium: This type of mold needs a lot of water to grow, so you’ll often find it in homes that have been flooded. It grows on wet walls, and many are allergic to it.

Ulocladium mold

Commonalities

Mold is identified by cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery texture. It comes in many different colors and may look like discoloration or staining on the surface of building materials at first. Musty/earthy odors are common.

Preventing Mold

To ensure you and your loved ones are safe from mold, there are some preventative steps you can take. For one, periodically check your plumbing, roofing, foundation, gutters, attic, crawl spaces, and sump pumps. Dry any wet materials in 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth, and insulate/seal air leaks between the attic and the rest of your home. You can divert water away from your home by cleaning and maintaining gutters, sloping the ground and sidewalks away from the foundation pre-construction, and installing a sump pump (pictured below). You can reduce the level of condensation by installing and using exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, installing vent appliances outside, insulating cold spots, reducing humidifier use, and raising the temperature/increasing air circulation to the colder parts of the home. Keeping your indoor surfaces as dry as possible is also important. Start by keeping the home’s relative humidity between 20-40 percent in the winter and less than 60 percent the rest of the year. Some devices (found at home supply stores) measure the relative humidity of your home. By preventing mold in the first place, you don’t even have to worry about mold killer.

sump pump

UV Germicidal Lamp

This mold killer lamp brings sunshine inside, compensating for windowless rooms. The benefits to a UV Germicidal lamp are fewer colds, fresh smelling air and allergy relief! Who can argue with that? They’re easily installed in your heating and cooling system for permanent UV exposure. The bulb kills germs and harmful contaminants, controlling airborne microorganisms in a natural way. You’ll find Germicidal lamps in hospitals, restaurants, nursing homes and child care facilities to kill germs. If you install these lamps in your home, they kill germs that cause viruses, the common cold and influenza. Plus, they take care of mold and mildew so you don’t have to worry about ventilation, humidity and darkness at all! They keep your ductwork clear. As a nice bonus, ultraviolet light keeps the indoor coil of your air conditioner system looking brand new. This translates to better efficiency and lower electric bills. Other benefits include odor reduction, fewer chemical cleanings, and low operating costs.

UV Germicidal Lamp

How It Works

UV-C light is a germicidal, which means it deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses and pathogens by damaging the nucleic acid of microorganisms. This damage is caused by covalent bonds formed between certain adjacent bases in the DNA. When these bonds form, they prevent the DNA from being unzipped for replication, thereby stopping reproduction. A 15-watt germicidal UVC lamp will cover 100 square feet, so you can use this formula to determine the wattage your room requires. Lamps should be replaced after two years of continuous use, and they should be checked every three months for cleanliness. These lamps can be cleaned with a dry cotton cloth or paper towel—wear rubber gloves and clean with alcohol! They produce just as much heat as fluorescent lamps and pose no safety risks to the people using them in their home when properly installed, making them a great form of mold killer.

uv lamp chart

Contact Us

If a mold killer UC Germicidal lamp seems like the best option for your needs, contact us so we can hook you up with the most effective mold preventative tool on the market! We’re open 24/7 and our expert technicians can get the job done on your schedule.