Things Your Plumber Wishes You Would Stop Doing

Your Honolulu emergency plumber at Emergency Plumbing & Solar doesn’t mind fixing your mistakes, cleaning up your messes, or unclogging your clogs—that’s just a part of the job. But there are certain things that grind the proverbial gears of plumbers across the world—things that make our jobs and your lives more difficult.

In this blog, we’ll give you a list of a few things that make your plumbers cringe. It’s not just that these plumber pet peeves cause us frustration—they can actually do a great deal of damage to your home.

You’re a Drano user.

We get it—there’s something oddly satisfying about incinerating a nasty clog with powerful chemicals. Unfortunately, these chemicals (like the ones in Drano and similar products) can do a great deal of damage to your pipes, and create environmental hazards for animals and plant life down the line.

Using a fire extinguisher is one way to put out a fire, but the best way to put out a fire is to not start one in the first place. To avoid the need for Drano, avoid a clogged drain altogether—that means using a stopper to keep hair and gunk from entering your plumbing system.

You flush EVERYTHING down the toilet.

Tampons, baby wipes, makeup remover pads, cat litter—if you can think of it, somebody flushes it down the toilet regularly. Unfortunately, items like this—even the ones that are labeled as “flushable”—can clog your toilet drain and cause problems for your plumber.

If you’re the one throwing anything but toilet paper and “the goods” down the toilet… SHAME. There are perfectly sturdy garbage cans that will take care of all of your paper products without wreaking havoc on your plumbing system.

You throw EVERYTHING down your garbage disposal.

There’s a time and place for everything. But it’s not the time to place potato peels, bacon grease, pasta, chicken bones, or coffee grounds down your garbage disposal. Your garbage disposal is an amazing invention, but it’s not invincible—throwing too many scraps of harder, stickier food items down your disposal can jam and overheat your system.

If you call a plumber about a jammed or clogged garbage disposal, you can bet they’re going to lecture you about proper garbage disposal practices. Good thing you read this blog and all the hassle can be avoided… right?

You use toilet pucks.

While we’d all love nothing more than to have a perpetually clean toilet, those toilet tank pucks that “freshen” your toilet can actually do more harm than good. These pucks contain chemicals that can wear out the inner components of your toilet and prevent flushing altogether.

The best way to clean a toilet? You guessed it—toilet cleaner and some good ol’ elbow grease.

You don’t know where the main water valve is.

Would you rather (a) call your plumber about a leaky dishwasher or (b) call your plumber about a foot-high flood in your basement? The latter probably could’ve been avoided if it didn’t take you 20 minutes to find out where your water shutoff valve is.

Sometimes, preventing extensive, house-wide water damage is as simple as turning off your water before before things get out of control. Learn where your main water valve is, and tell your whole family about it—this can help you prevent flooding disasters, even when the kids are the only ones at home.

You tried to DIY.

Good effort, DIY Dad. You tried to fix a complex plumbing problem—and the effort and determination were clearly there—but you only made things worse in the end. Leave things to the professionals—call Emergency Plumbing & Solar for your next plumbing problem!

 

Toilet Talk IV: History of The Toilet

According to bladderandbowel.org, a self-proclaimed voice of the bladder and bowel community (???), the average human uses a toilet six to seven times in a 24-hour period. That’s a lot of toilet time. But do humans every stop to think about why they can relieve themselves with relative ease? We might be too busy tweeting on the toilet to notice how important toilets are to the development of the modern world.

In this blog, Honolulu’s premier plumbers will give you a brief history of the flushing toilet, and how its evolution has changed how we go to the bathroom today.

Let’s define what a toilet is real quick.

Anything can be a toilet if you try hard enough—but for the sake of this toilet timeline, we’ll say that a true toilet performs two basic functions:

  1. It provides the user with some sort of seat—a throne, per se—that makes use of the toilet easy.
  2. It allows for waste to be carried away from the area, with a manual, mechanical, or gravitational “flush.” No waterless pit toilets here.

With this in mind, it’s time to learn about the history of toilets. We’re going to give you the highlight reel of toilet innovations here—we wouldn’t want to “waste” too much of your time. Also, sorry for the toilet humor.

Toilets of the Ancient World

The first signs of functional toilet systems can be traced back to around 2500 BC—the height of the Egyptian empire. With a rapidly expanding population and a growing amount of human waste to deal with, the Egyptians needed ways to dispose of waste efficiently to avoid widespread disease and general squalor—which is when they created a the world’s first known “sewage system.” Egyptians built simple, sit-down latrines that were “flushed” manually with buckets of water. The waste was carried from the latrine into earthenware pipes that directed the waste into underground water channels directed away from populated areas. The best part of this toilet system? It’s still in working order today.

Ancient Romans (starting around 500 BC) built the “flush” into the sewer system itself, creating comfortable stone latrines with a hole at the bottom—much like a traditional toilet siphon we see today. Waste from the toilet was then dropped directly into water channels below—a highly complex grid of running water directing waste traffic where it needed to go. The Romans had no choice but to develop these systems further over time—as the population outgrew these systems, the streets would fill with water and human waste during rainstorms.

With both of these civilizations, we see a similar pattern—toilets start as a luxury for the wealthy and powerful, and once the technology becomes scalable, toilets become more accessible to the general public. But it’s not always that easy, and we’ll find out over 1000 years after the fall of the Roman Empire.

England’s Toilet Troubles

Fast forward to 1200 AD, and London is in shambles. The current garderobe system in place, a series of public toilets that drained into the nearby Thames River, were causing the river to stink of feces—and because London relied on the Thames as its primary water source, the city was struck by widespread sickness and disease. In order to solve this city-wide problem, the city phased out garderobes by the 1500s. Londoners opted to use relatively old-school technology to replace it—a series of personal chamber pots (essentially large bowls) that were used and then transported to be emptied.

Unfortunately, there was one problem with this plan—chamber pots were available for people of all socioeconomic classes, but only the rich and royal has designated areas to “flush” their chamberpots. So where did the common people dispose of their chamberpot waste?

They took their waste exactly where it shouldn’t go—to the streets. Oppressed by a powerful and occasionally corrupt government for generations, London’s commoners weren’t willing to pay taxes to their leaders to develop public sewage systems—so they threw their excrement into the streets and lived amongst that excrement… for almost 300 years.

“Gardez l’eau” (watch out for the water) was the phrase of the day. Have a chamberpot full of waste? Just yell this classic phrase and throw the contents of your chamberpot right out your window and into the streets, hoping you don’t hit passersby below. Now that’s a crappy situation.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that public plumbing and full-scale toilet infrastructure became a priority for the English population (no wonder some Brits wanted to start a new world in the Americas). Building off privy inspiration from Sir John Harrington and Leonardo Da Vinci, two Englishmen emerged as toilet innovators of the time: Alexander Cummings, a resident watchmaker and toilet enthusiast, and Thomas Crapper (we know you just laughed), a self-proclaimed mad toilet scientist.

Cummings was the first to receive a patent for the modern flushing toilet—and this time, the flush was fully automatic. Using basic physics and some copper artistry, Cummings and his team crafted a toilet that flushed mechanically, and returned fresh water to the bowl after every flush. It was the start of something beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect yet—these toilets often had faulty seals between the toilet and the sewer line below, which would allow noxious sewer fumes to enter the home.

This issue wasn’t completely until Mr. Crapper—a seasoned plumber with a 250-gallon water tank on top of his workshop—developed powerful, airtight seals between the toilet and the sewer line, as well as between the toilet and the floor, ensuring all those nuclear smells remained in the sewer. Crapper was also responsible for mainstream toilet production in England. He teamed up with pottery maker Thomas Twyford, who made the transition from tableware to toilets and began turning porcelain toilets into mass-produced commodities—but he also turned them into works of art. Twyford was well-known for his incredible toilet artistry, making toilets that were shaped like dolphins and angels.

Meanwhile in America, people were still doing their business in pit-style outhouses, where they would lean over the back of a bench, exposed to an open pit, to relieve themselves. This might be surprising to our younger readers—but it wasn’t until after World War I that flushing toilets became culturally relevant in the US. When American soldiers came back from England after the war, they couldn’t stop talking about a revolutionary new bathroom device. They called it “The Crapper.”

Toilets Today

There have been many advances in toilet technology over the past five or six decades—we’ve seen a dramatic increase in flushing power, water efficiency, and throne comfort. We’ve seen toilets with bluetooth that jam high-fidelity music. We’ve seen toilets that could pass for art in in the MoMA. We’ve even seen a $19 million toilet on the American side of the International Space Station—and the Americans wouldn’t even let the Russians use it.

In today’s day and age, it’s easy to take our toilets for granted. Do you even know where the goods go after you flush? Probably not. But something as simple as a toilet and its plumbing infrastructure has saved the developed world from widespread disease, filth, and a long list of other crappy problems. That’s why the toilet is worth talking about.

 

To Emergency Plumber… Or Not Emergency Plumber?

As Honolulu’s emergency plumbers of choice, Emergency Plumbing & Solar knows that plumbing emergencies can come in many forms. As a homeowner, you may not know the reason for the problem, but you certainly know the symptoms: an overflowing toilet, a backed up shower drain, an ice-cold shower, a kitchen flood—you name it, and you’ve seen it happen or heard about it at some point.

When these problems arise, it’s almost a reflex to call an emergency plumber—especially if your plumbing mishap occurs in the middle of the night. But should that always be your go-to strategy for your plumbing problems?

Before you panic and call your 24-hour emergency plumber, go through your plumbing emergency checklist. It could lessen damage from plumbing issues, and it could save you money, too!

1. Shut off the water.

Especially when you have water spewing across your home, this is always your first step—whether you’re going to call the emergency plumber or not. You should always know where your emergency shutoff valve is for your water supply as this will cut off the water at its source. Find it, know it, and teach your kids where it is and how to use it—you never know when plumbing emergencies will arise.

2. Evaluate the intensity of the plumbing problem.

Can it wait until regular business hours? This is a question you should always ask yourself when evaluating a potential plumbing emergency. Much of the time, turning your water supply off can stop damage from an overflowing toilet. For problems that aren’t causing immediate water damage, you might be able to make due until the next business day by using your bathroom sink instead of your kitchen sink, or using another toilet or shower in your home.

The quicker you are to pick up the phone to call the 24-hour plumber, the more you’ll pay for plumbing services. If repairs can wait, it’s best to hold tight and call a non-emergency plumber first thing in the morning.

3. Call your water company.

Sometimes, plumbing problems go well beyond the scope of your home. Your plumbing issues could be a result of a serious municipal plumbing issue, like a sewer blockage, broken mainline, or manhole problems. Before you pay for an emergency plumber to make it out to your home, give your water company a call. If they see a problem with the plumbing system around your home, they’ll inform of the situation as well as their plans to fix it. But if they don’t see any issues, it’s time to give your emergency plumber a call.

4. Give your emergency plumber a call.

If all else fails and you just can’t wait for a 24-hour plumber, it’s time to make the call. But it’s not as easy as dialing the number and following instructions. If you don’t ask the right questions, your emergency could come out to your place, fix your problem, and hit you with a whopping repair bill (it’s not a rip-off, it’s what it costs for emergency plumbing services).

Before you invite the plumber to your home, ask a few questions while you’re on the phone. If a receptionist picks up, ask to speak directly to a plumber on duty—they’ll have a better idea of what repairs will cost. Next, ask them what their service charge is—plumbers cost money, even if all they do is show up and take a look at your plumbing disaster. Finally, if you have an inkling of what your plumbing problem is, ask the plumber what a typical repair of that kind would cost. This will be the most important information you’ll need in deciding whether to get the repair done right then and there, or to wait until regular business hours.

5. Trust the professionals.

Emergency Plumbing & Solar is Honolulu’s 24-hour plumber of choice, helping you with the messiest and most time-sensitive plumbing problems. Whether you need our services right away, or you’d rather save money and wait until our daytime plumbers are on duty, we’re always happy to help. Give us a call today!

 

Toilet Talk, Part 3: Toilet Tune-up Time

In part 1 and part 2 of our Toilet Talk series, Honolulu’s emergency plumbers discussed how toilets work, and signs that it’s time for a new toilet. In part 3 of the series, we’ll give you a cheat sheet to a toilet tune-up—ideas and strategies that can extend the life of your toilet, and keep things flushing. These tips are so easy, DIYers of any skill level can handle them!

Step 1: Check Your Toilet Flapper

Does your toilet flush when nobody is around? While some people might chalk it up to a possessed toilet or a ghost with bowel issues, chances are that your toilet flapper is damaged or broken.

Flappers are very inexpensive, and can be replaced in three simple steps. First, disconnect the chain that attaches the flapper and the toilet handle, and remove the old flapper. Next, check that the flapper valve is smooth and intact so you can have a proper seal with your new flapper. Finally, place the new flapper and attach the chain back to your toilet handle.

Step 2: Check Your Flush Handle

Your toilet handle is usually fastened to the wall of your toilet by a single nut, which can come loose over time. Tighten the nut if necessary, and check to see if the chain between the handle and the flapper is structurally sound and not too loose or too tight.

New toilet handles and chains are very inexpensive, and can be purchased at your local hardware or plumbing supply store. If your handle and chain are due for a replacement, just pull the old ones out, and put the new ones in. It’s really that easy.

Step 3: Examine Your Toilet For Base Leaks

If you’re experiencing leaks on the floor near the base of your toilet, there’s a very good chance your wax ring is broken or deteriorating. This is another DIY project that can be solved in a few simple steps.

First, turn off the water in your home, and flush your toilet a few times to remove water from your toilet bowl. Wait for your toilet to dry out a bit before continuing. Next, use large pliers to disconnect your water supply pipe from the bottom of your toilet. Use a wrench to loosen the bolts that hold your toilet down at the base. Next, lift the toilet upwards to expose the wax ring. Remove the wax ring, rinse it off, and take it to the hardware store with you so you can buy an appropriately sized replacement ring; this should only cost you a few bucks. Finally, place the new wax ring, reattach the water supply, have someone sit on the toilet to hold it in proper position, then bolt it back down.

Step 4: Take A Look At The Fill Valve

Your fill valve, also known as the ballcock, is one of the most important mechanical pieces of your toilet. If it’s not working properly, you could experience weak flushing, no flushing, and even frequent toilet overflows.

These issues could be caused by a broken or damaged fill valve, but it’s more likely that these issues are caused by an improperly placed fill valve. To fix these issues, take off your toilet lid, and watch your fill valve do its work. The fill valve should stop the flow of water right before it reaches the overflow tube. Adjust your fill valve accordingly to make sure your toilet isn’t overflowing or underflowing.

Step 5: Inspect The Bowl

Take a look around your bowl, and remove any buildup that is obstructing the main channel or the rim channels underneath the rim of your toilet. Blockages of the rim channels are very common, especially if you’re not thoroughly cleaning underneath the rim with your toilet brush.

The success of your toilet bowl is also based upon what you put into it—so avoid flushing baby wipes, cotton balls, paper towels, disinfecting wipes, or basically anything that isn’t toilet paper. If you have children, educate them on things they shouldn’t flush down the toilet. If there’s one thing our emergency plumbers know too much about, it’s the ways kids can clog a toilet and flood an entire bathroom space. Stuffed animals, action figures, household items, you name it—if a kid can reach it, there’s a possibility they will flush it down the toilet out of curiosity or the need for entertainment.

Step 6: Give Your Toilet A Good Cleaning

Cleaning your toilet is critical for keeping it clean, functional, and germ-free, so it’s important that you clean your toilet thoroughly and regularly. You don’t need harsh and toxic chemicals to give your toilet a good cleaning—all you need are some rubber gloves, a two-liter bottle of Coca Cola, and some vinegar!

First, carefully pour some Coke under the rim of your toilet bowl, letting it stick to the surface and soak into the grime of your rim channel. Continue to pour the Coke into the toilet, working downwards from the rim to the bowl. Save some Coke for later. Grab a toilet brush, and begin to scrub under the rim—don’t stop until every bit of gunk is gone. Finally, apply Coke to your rim channel once more, and pour your remaining Coke straight into the toilet bowl so your toilet water scumline is completely submerged. Close your toilet lid, and let the Coke do its shockingly effective work for about a half hour.

Next, open your toilet bowl, and spray a vinegar-water blend on all inner surfaces of the toilet. Follow up with another scrub of your toilet bowl, then flush the whole mess out of sight and out of mind.

If this process doesn’t clean your toilet, you might need to loosen things up before you really get to cleaning. Boil a pot of hot water, and pour it directly into your toilet bowl, filling it up as high as you can. Close the bowl and let the boiling water sit for a half hour or so. The heat will loosen months (or sadly, years) of gunk, allowing you to scrub this clean much more efficiently.  

Still Having Toilet Troubles?

If you’ve followed these steps and your toilet is still having trouble, it’s time to call the professionals. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help! It’s better to call us sooner rather than later to fix your toilet issues—you’d rather be in need of one of our regular plumbers instead of one emergency plumbers, wouldn’t you? No matter the situation, we can take care of your toilet problems. Schedule an appointment, or call us for help with your plumbing emergencies today!

 

Toilet Talk, Part 2: Signs It’s Time for a New Toilet

Your toilet is your safe space, your luxurious lavatory—your judicious john. You two have spent a lot of time together over the years, comforting each other in the good times, bad times, and unspeakable times. But in the words of the great Geoffrey Chaucer, “All good things must come to an end.” Your withering water closet will eventually lose its power, its mechanical integrity, and its will to flush—and you’ll have no choice but to send your beloved bog to privy purgatory (not all toilets go to heaven).

In this edition of Toilet Talk, we’ll discuss the signs that your toilet needs to be laid to rest, and replaced with a newer, younger model.

Your toilet constantly clogs and overflows.

If your child is constantly curious about which of his toys will actually flush down the toilet, then you’re probably used to clogs, overflows, and bathroom floods on a frequent basis. But if your toilet keeps clogging due to “regular” business instead of funny business, there’s a chance your toilet is doomed. If you’re absolutely sure you know what keeps causing clogs, Honolulu’s emergency plumbers can diagnose and treat your toilet. But if your clogs and overflows seem random and unpredictable, then your best bet is to trade in your toilet.

Your toilet is always running.

Then why don’t you chase after it? If your toilet is constantly running—or more specifically, spitting water and spontaneously refilling—it can be a sign of damage to your flapper or flapper valve. Flappers are very inexpensive, and replacing them is a reasonable DIY project even for the least handy of folks. But if a cracked ball float is the problem, it could be causing your toilet to fill with too much water, run constantly, and ultimately, spike your utility bill. If you don’t deal with “running” problems sooner rather than later, you might as well flush your money straight down the toilet.

A one-time flapper or float problem is nothing to worry about—but if you keep experiencing malfunctions or displacement of these parts, then it might be time to kiss your commode goodbye.

Your toilet flushes poorly (or not at all).

There are approximately 8,675,309 different reasons why your toilet might be flushing poorly—or even worse, not flushing at all. Whatever the case, it’s important to have your system checked in these situations by a plumbing professional—flushing problems can manifest themselves anywhere between your toilet bowl and your subterranean sewer line. But there’s more that can go wrong with a toilet than a sewer line, so if your plumber finds issues with your toilet’s flushing ability, a toilet replacement might be in order.  

Your toilet is leaking at the seams.

It’s all fun and games until the floor around your toilet is spongy and soggy. Toilets, just like a ceramic pot or your grandma’s china, can crack, and with cracks comes leaks. This is an emergency plumbing situation; leaks that aren’t taken care of immediately can cause mold, mildew, rotting, and even structural damage to your home.

It’s not just cracks that cause these problems—deteriorating seals within your toilet can allow water to flow where it shouldn’t. These are unmistakable signs of an old, tired toilet. Get a new one before money starts leaking out of your wallet.

Your toilet looks old.

Sometimes, there’s not enough bleach and elbow grease in the world to fully clean your dingy, unnaturally off-white toilet. And in a room where cleanliness is next to godliness, an old, dirty toilet can produce some ungodly sights and smells.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with replacing your toilet because it looks irreparably old and dirty—we replace old couches and chairs all the time for the same reason. Plus, there’s nothing like that new toilet smell (or lack thereof).

The Benefits of a New Toilet

So you’ve finally decided to replace your toilet—but you’re not convinced about the new loo just yet. However, rest assured knowing your new toilet will be much more reliable, will have more flushing power, and will save you money, too. Powerful, water-efficient toilets can reduce your water usage by up to 20 percent compared to a standard toilet of the times. But if your toilet was manufactured before 1994, you could be cutting water usage by nearly 60 percent—or over 4,000 gallons of water, per person in your household, per year. That’s enough water to do over 100 loads of laundry!
Do you really need any more convincing to get a new toilet? We didn’t think so. Now go buy a brand new latrine and flush your toilet problems away!

 

Let’s Go Clog Huntin’!

Sometimes, a clogged drain needs the magic touch of the Honolulu emergency plumbers at Emergency Plumbing & Solar. But other times, harnessing your inner MacGyver and staring your clog straight in the hairballs is enough to keep your drain draining.

In this blog, we’ll discuss a few DIY solutions to handle mildly or partially clogged drains in your home. Even if these solutions only keep your drain unclogged for a little while, they can keep clogs from getting out of control until you get a professional plumber on the scene.

The Wire Hanger  

You’ve used it to break into your own car, and you’ve used it to roast some marshmallows. But have you used it to unclog your drain? A wire coat hanger is perhaps the cheapest and most effective device for unclogging a drain—a legend in the world of hair-based clog removal. Just straighten that bad boy out, fashion one end into a fishing hook shape, stick it down the drain, and evict that cursed clog from the depths of your plumbing system. But beware, clogs look (and smell) worse than you can imagine.  

Baking Soda & Vinegar

Maybe instead of forcibly pulling your clog from the drain, you’re rather let science do the work for you—or more specifically, your fifth grade science project. Baking soda and vinegar volcanoes have been a mainstay for people who procrastinated on their science projects for decades—and that same chemical reaction turns your paper mache volcano into a soggy mess can also eat through clogs in your drain.

First, boil some water and pour 75 percent of that water down your drain. Next, add a half-cup of baking soda to your drain and let it sit for five minutes. Then, with your remaining hot water, mix in a cup of vinegar and slowly pour it into the drain. Take a drain plug, and plug the drain—you want to keep your chemical reaction from bubbling up and out of your drain. Let that fizzy reaction sit for 20-30 minutes, and in the meantime, boil up another pot of hot water. Once you’ve waited long enough, pull the plug on the drain and flushing the concoction down the drain with the boiling water. It’s so easy, a fifth-grader could do it.

Wet-Dry Vacuum

Your clog sucks, but a wet-dry vacuum sucks harder. As long as your wet-dry vacuum has enough horsepower, you should be able to remove minor hair clogs from your drain with relative ease. We realize most people don’t have wet-dry vacuums lying around—but if you do, this is a highly effective method for committing clog homicide.

A Honolulu Emergency Plumber

Don’t you have better things to do than clear clogs from your drains? Life is short—you should be pursuing your passions instead of digging around in drains. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help. We’ve spent decades wrestling with unthinkably large and complex clogs, and we dispatch these clogs every single time. If there’s a clog we can’t unclog (there isn’t), you don’t pay a dollar. Let us handle your drain demons—give us a call today!

 

Planning A Commercial Restroom Space

If you’re an employer, building owner, or office manager looking for commercial plumbing service in Honolulu, there are a number expectations and standards you must meet to keep your employees or tenants happy, and your health and safety standards up to snuff. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for major commercial plumbing renovation or installation for your office.

How many people will use the space?

If you’re planning for the installation of a high-traffic, commercial bathroom in your facility, do some research on how many people will be working in or occupying your facility at any given time. If you plan on your employee population or facility capacity to growing, it’s critical to factor that growth into the design of your bathroom.

There are a number of local, state, and federal regulations that dictate how many toilets you need in any bathroom based on the number of occupants in your building. Your commercial plumbing experts will have in-depth knowledge of these regulations, and help you design a bathroom that fits your level of traffic and your particular health and safety codes

How heavily will this space be used?

In some bathroom spaces, like in a small office building with a handful of employees, standard issue commercial toilets, sinks, and plumbing might do the trick. But if your bathroom facility experiences a high volume of traffic like in an airport or supermarket, you might need to invest a little more money into your plumbing fixtures for a more durable and usable space.

Maintenance is another component to take into account when designing your commercial bathroom space. If your bathroom sees a lot of foot traffic, you’ll need flooring materials that can withstand that traffic, and are easy to clean after heavy use. Paper towels and other paper waste can litter your restroom facility and hit you with recurring expenses, so considering automatic hand driers for your space you save you the hassle of cleaning up paper towel waste, and create a more seamless and sustainable space.

What should I do while the plumbing renovation is in progress?

If you’re renovating an office bathroom space, you’ll need a contingency plan for where your employees will use the restroom, or you’ll need to close up shop until your space is ready to go. Talk to your plumber for an estimate on how much time it will take to renovate your space, and plan around that time frame.

What do I want this space to look like?

Despite their utilitarian nature, commercial bathrooms (especially for customer-facing businesses like restaurants and hotels) are a direct reflection of the businesses they provide service for. After all, nobody wants to slip away to the restroom in a three-star Michelin restaurant, only to enter a not-so-luxurious, stark, and dirty facility. Your bathroom space says just as much about your business as your customer service or your products, so invest money in a bathroom atmosphere that is on par with the identity and quality of your business.

Trust The Professionals At Emergency Plumbing & Solar

For all of your commercial plumbing needs, you need Honolulu’s Top Rated Local Plumbing Service, Emergency Plumbing & Solar. Our professional staff can take care of commercial plumbing emergencies, general repairs, installation, and much more, Call us now to improve your commercial plumbing space!

 

When Sewer Lines Attack

hero-flooding

We’ve all had a backed up toilet, a clogged sink drain, or a water heater failure at some point. But what if your biggest plumbing problem is hiding all the way in your sewer line? Learn the signs of sewer line failure before pungent plumbing problems are piped right into your home.

Critters are crawling into your home.

The average rat has a girth of three or four inches, but can fit through through a hole the size of a quarter. This means that your neighborhood sewer rats can easily travel from the main sewer line into your home’s sewer line and invite themselves into your home (especially if they’re attracted by some appetizing smells along the way).

If you suddenly have rodents occupying your home, there’s a good chance you have a sewer line failure on your hands. This is something that needs professional plumbing and exterminator attention, as rodents often carry life-threatening diseases like Hemorrhagic Fever and Plague, which can be transmitted through inhaling particles of rat droppings, or being bitten by a rodent carrying infection.


Poo is pooling in your yard.

Septic waste pooling in your yard is often a sign of trouble beneath your home in the form of a broken sewer line, backed up or full septic tank, clogged sewer drains, or a cracked main line. Regardless of the cause of the problem, the solution is call an emergency plumber to diagnose and treat your plumbing situation, and return your yard to working order. The extra fertilizer from your septic tank will only help the appearance of your lawn—which leads us to our next point…


Your grass is greener than usual.

Animal waste acts as the natural fertilizer of the world; it’s one part of the beautiful cycle that keeps both plants and animals fed. When animals poop, their feces leaches into the ground, enriching the soil and accelerating plant lushness, growth rate, and nutrient density. Animals gravitate toward the nutrient dense plants and feast upon them to absorb their nutrients. Then, well, the cycle begins again.

So when sewage escapes from a sewer line and enters into the soil below your lawn, it’s no surprise that your grass gets a nutrient boost and becomes extremely lush and green. The only difference is that the waste is leaching in from below, not above. This a surefire sign of a sewer line crack or break in your yard, especially if your lawn develops lushness and color in a season that isn’t optimal for green grass.

We know—everything in Hawaii is green and lush all the time. But even a little bit of unexpected “fertilizer” can make your lawn look twice as lush as the lawns of your neighbors. When in doubt, contact the plumbing experts to investigate what’s going on beneath your lawn.


side-img1Something smells strange.

This is the easiest way to tell if you have a sewer line failure. Once again—If you’re experiencing ungodly smells coming from the drains in your home, it’s best to call the plumbing experts to check things out. Waiting can only make problems less simple—and more smelly.


The mold is getting old.

A cracked or broken sewer pipe behind a wall in your home doesn’t just create a smelly issue—it can make mold take hold of your home. Once a sewer pipe breaks, humidity levels near the break skyrocket, creating an optimal environment for mold to spread. Certain types of mold can appear and thrive with less than 50 percent humidity, so this can become a problem in even the driest of climates. While many molds grow for reasons other than a sewer failure (high humidity, bacterial buildup, etc.), a mold problem accompanied by a strange sewer smell is a sure sign of a sewer failure in or around your home.


Your drain isn’t draining.

Sometimes, there’s probable cause for a clogged toilet or sink drain. Other times, a clogged drain can appear without any cause or warning, or develop slowly over time. In these cases, there’s a high likelihood that a blockage is building up in your sewer, which will eventually lead to a complete sewage backup that could cause damage to your home. While some clogs are high up in your sewer system and can be destroyed using natural or chemical drain cleaners, a sewer line clog is a much more difficult clog to access and fix. This is where professional plumbers with sewer line experience can rid you of the drain problems that drain your energy and your wallet.


dreamstime_xxl_5851143You have an insect infestation.

Insects have an easier time getting into your home via your sewer line than rats do, and could be a sign of sewer issues beneath your home. Cockroaches, palmetto bugs, sewer flies, and many other insects love the sewer environment, and can have adverse health consequences once they enter your home. Roaches, for instance, can cause potentially severe allergic reactions (especially for kids) by spreading their feces around your home. Plus, sewer systems are dark, humid, and well-protected, so insects will have no trouble reproducing at a high clip in their new home.

Pest control services can be a huge asset in removing insects from your home itself, but if there are insects crawling around in your sewer system, that’s a plumbing problem that must be confronted by a plumbing professional who can root out the insects at the source. Don’t let the bugs bug you any longer—talk to the experts.


Your slab is slouching.

Homes built on foundation slabs run home sewer lines somewhere beneath the slab before they run into the main sewer system—so once your sewer line has problems, your slab could have problems too. You need not worry about your foundation slab if you’re experiencing sewer line problems for the first time, or have a newer house or sewer line, but if your sewer line has been in operation for a long while, it might be subject to deterioration that can cause slab slouching, cracking, and deforming beneath your home. In the most extreme cases, slab slouching combined with sewer line breakage or deterioration can cause soil saturation and compaction which can lead to dangerous sinkhole formations.


Failing sewer line? Drop us a line!

Emergency Plumbing & Solar is Honolulu’s premier plumbing service, well-versed in the art and science of sewer line diagnosis, repair, and unclogging. Whether you have a slow-growing problem or a plumbing emergency, we have experienced professionals who are happy to help—no matter where you are on the island of Oahu. Contact us today to fix your plumbing problems!

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Toilet Talk, Part 1: The Basics of Toilets

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Unless you have a farm outhouse, your home cannot function without a working toilet. But keep your toilet in good order, you must understand how it works. Here are the basics of traditional, gravity-flush toilets, how they work, and how you can keep your porcelain goddess pristine and functional for the long run.


toilettalk-image1How Your Toilet Works

When the toilet handle is pressed, a lever raises a “flapper valve” at the bottom of the tank, allowing gravity to drain water from the tank down into the bowl. Water enters the bowl in two ways:

1. Through the Rim Channel

Water flows from the tank to the rim channel, which allows water to flow underneath the toilet seat and fall through tiny “rim slots,” or holes that push water downward to clean the sides of your toilet bowl.

2. Through the Main Channel

Using a mix of air and water, the main channel allows water to flow from the bowl through the siphon, or the hole where all your waste exits the toilet bowl. With enough force and a precise combination of air and water, the toilet creates an eductor, or pulling motion, that forces your waste in the siphon channel.

Once enough water fills the toilet bowl, it spills over a raised lip. This lip is low enough to allow water to pour from your bowl into the sewer system, and high enough to keep water in your toilet bowl when it’s not in use. This is the magic of physics and toilet engineering. After the waste falls over the lip, gravity pulls it into the sewer system, where a protective flap keep all those noxious sewer fumes from entering your home.

Soon after the toilet flushes and water drains from the tank, the flapper valve lowers back into its original position, which seals the tank and allows new water to flood the tank—so your toilet is ready for the next flush.


toilettalk-image2Tuning Up Your Toilet

To keep your gravity flush toilet flushing smoothly, it’s important to monitor the state of the parts in the toilet tank. These parts are fairly inexpensive, but can also fall victim to wear and tear over time. Replacing the tank-ball and flapper valve on your toilet will allow for a stronger seal on your flush valve, ensuring that your toilet doesn’t run intermittently or leak into the bowl, which can add money to your water bill.

Keeping your toilet drain clear is another way to improve the performance of your toilet, and avoid costly sewage backups and plunger-proof clogs. For minor clogs and buildup, a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water can loosen up clogs and clean the inside of your toilet drain. For more advanced clogs, it’s best to call a drain-clearing professional.

That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help. As dedicated and experienced plumbers of Honolulu and the entire island of Oahu, we can help repair and replace faulty parts in your toilet, provide education on proper toilet care and maintenance, and clear any toilet clogs or backups—24 hours a day. Contact us today to flush your toilet problems away!

 

What’s Lurking in Your Drain

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At Emergency Plumbing and Solar on Oahu, we’ve seen every type of clogged drain there is, and we have the tools to bring those clogs to a swift end. The reason we can unclog drains so effectively comes from our knowledge of how (and more importantly, what) can clog your drain and cause damage to your home. Here are a few common causes of clogged drains, and how to avoid them.


lurking-image2Hair

You might wonder how a hair clump the size of a baseball could develop in your shower drain, or perhaps how you’re losing your hair faster than you thought. However, the average human who isn’t balding loses anywhere from 100 to 300 strands of hair per day, which can be more than enough hair to clog your drain over the course of a year. To prevent hair clogs in the shower drain, purchase a drug store shower drain filter. You’ll keep the hair out of your drain, and you’ll be able to keep tabs and how much hair you’re losing—for better or for worse.

Food

For kitchen drains and garbage disposals, food is the obvious culprit for clogs. These clogs can can be caused by almost any kind of food, no matter the size of the food particles. Over time, even the smallest of particles can adhere and create a clog, so it’s important to keep your drains and garbage disposal clean and well-maintained. However, using Drain-O or other chemicals to clean your garbage disposal can cause damage and deterioration to its plastic parts, so save the heavy-duty cleaners for your drains only.

There are a number of common foods that can clog garbage disposals, such as pasta and bread (which expand and become sticky when wet), potato skins, eggshells, and fibrous vegetables. While coffee grains can improve the smell of your garbage disposal, they are incredibly sticky when wet, and can harden to create some tough blockages, especially if you drink coffee at a high clip.

Ultimately, when it comes to food, follow this common saying to prevent blockages: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Grease

Didn’t your mom teach you anything? Pouring grease down a drain is the easiest way to clog it. Since grease is usually animal or vegetable fat, all that liquid grease from your hot pan will solidify into a jiggly, gelatin-like substance once it’s in your drain. This can cause some of the most frustrating and complex clogs that are difficult to remove—even for the professionals. Throw that slimy grease in the trash, or even better—start a grease jar. All that leftover grease from months of cooking bacon can be the magic ingredient and a great lubricant for future pan-cooked meals.

lurking-image1Soap

You’d think soap would be safe for your drains, right? Not necessarily. Early soaps made by humans had a lard base, and many soaps today are still based off of some type of animal or vegetable fat, which clogs your drains in the same way as grease from the frying pan. Do your drains a favor and buy fat-free soap, which is becoming more and more common in supermarkets today.

Paper & Personal Care Products

While toilet paper is scientifically engineered to be pipe-friendly, other paper products are too thick and sturdy to break down, which can leave you with a stinky smell and a backed-up toilet. Avoid flushing paper towels, baby wipes, cotton balls, cigarette butts, or newspaper down the toilet, as they’re just not designed to break down properly in plumbing systems.
Diapers are a common cause of toilet drain clogs as well, as they are too thick and not biodegradable. Just because it’s a landing pad for poop doesn’t mean it should be put in the toilet.

How EPS Can Help

We hope these tips help you keep your drains and pipes clean and clear. But for those tricky drain clogs, call Emergency Plumbing and Solar. We’re Honolulu’s plumbing experts, and 24/7 emergency plumbing service for the entire island of Oahu—so you can get your drain unclogged right when disaster strikes. We’ve seen the trickiest of clogs in our day, and we abide by our clogged drain guarantee: if we can’t unclog it, you don’t pay for it. Contact us today, and let us help you keep your drains draining!

 

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