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DIY Tips for Maintaining the Health of Your Septic Tank

Septic tanks require special care and ongoing maintenance to prevent damage and the development of environmentally hazardous conditions. If left untreated, necessary bacteria in the septic tank can stop working correctly and lead to a build-up of sludge. This sludge can cause a clog, which in turn can lead to every homeowners’ worst nightmare – the sewerage back-up.

Your septic system works by holding wastewater in a tank until the solid remains can settle at the tank’s bottom, which creates a layer of sludge. At this point, the lighter waste will float up, forming the scum layer. In between these layers is clarified water, which flows through an outlet pipe and is dispersed through a drain field. Helpful bacteria and enzymes in the septic tank break down waste and slow the development of the sludge layer. Maintain healthy levels of bacteria in your septic tank in the following ways:

Be aware of what you flush down the drain. Use septic-safe toilet paper and never flush anything large or harmful down the toilet. The only things that should be going into your septic system are human waste, toilet paper, and waste water.

Conserve water. Keeping an eye on your water consumption is a great way to take care of your septic tank, and your wallet! When large amounts of water are forced through your septic tank it can wash out helpful bacteria. Conserve water by taking shorter showers and shutting of the faucet while brushing teeth. You can also purchase low-flow faucets that reduce flow and conserve water.

Reduce solid waste. Try to cut down on your use of the garbage disposal. Instead, compost leftover food. Never pour grease or any other chemicals down the drain, as they may result in a clog or killing off of good bacteria.

Use a treatment system. These systems usually come in several forms, and are packed with good bacteria needed to keep the ecosystem of your septic tank in healthy condition.

If you would like to hear about how Empire Plumbing can help you protect and maintain your septic system, give us a call today!

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4 DIY Tips to Fix a Slow Drain

A slow draining fixture can be a huge annoyance, and if left unchecked can lead to a fully clogged drain and overflowing water. But have no fear, there are ways to fix a slow drain before it escalates and causes damage. Homeowners can prevent clogged drains by refraining from putting food waste, grease, and other solids in the drain. However, if it’s already too late, try unclogging the drain with the following simple DIY tips and get your plumbing flow back!

  1. Remove the drain cover of the sink or tub. Sometimes, a build-up of hair and other debris will create a gunky coating on the drain cover which restricts the flow of water. You can easily remove this coating by hand, or by soaking the cover in white vinegar to loosen tougher debris.
  2. Use a plunger. There are separate styles of plungers for sinks and toilets which are pretty effective at unclogging their respective drains. Make sure the cup of the plunger completely covers the drain. Hold the plunger upright, and vigorously plunge 10-20 times to create a buildup in pressure and release the clog.
  3. Use baking soda and vinegar to make your own drain cleaner. Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it with a half cup of white vinegar. This should create an acidic reaction which will eat away at the clog in the pipe. Rinse with hot water.
  4. Fashion a metal coat hanger into a DIY drain snake and use it to push or pull the clog through the drain. Be gentle while rooting around in the drain so as not to damage the fixture.

If all else fails, call us today! At Empire Plumbing, we are available 24/7, and we respond quickly to service calls for slowed or clogged drains.

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Help! What Do I Do in a Plumbing Emergency?

Whether it’s a burst pipe, an overflow, or clogged drain, plumbing emergencies usually amount to a messy inconvenience that homeowners are forced to deal with. The following list will assist homeowners with steps to take in the event of a plumbing emergency, and may help lessen the stress and panic.

  1. First of all, remain calm. While water rushing all over the floor can definitely raise feelings of panic in anyone, running around the house screaming isn’t going to fix the issue. The first step is to shut off the water supply immediately. You can either shut off the main valve to the home, or shut off the water to a particular fixture. If you turn off the main water supply, be sure to turn off the water heater via the circuit breaker as well. If the water heater continues to run with no water supply, it could overheat and cause severe damage.
  2. If you notice a leaking pipe, turn off the main water supply and call a plumber. You may need to replace the pipe or have the plumbing joint re-soldered by a professional plumber.
  3. If you have a leaking appliance, first check the traps. Many times, leaking is caused by a buildup of debris, which causes a clog in the drain and overflowing water. If the drain trap is clear, call a plumber or appliance repair service.
  4. If you have a clogged tub, sink, or toilet, use a plunger to try and unclog the drain. Remove the drain cover in a sink or shower and get rid of any collected hair or debris that is immediately visible inside the drain. If neither of these steps work, call a plumber to professionally snake the drain.
  5. If a toilet is overflowing, you can stop the flow of water by lifting the tank cover and pushing the stopper down into the valve seat. If the toilet is constantly running, it may be that the stopper is not correctly sitting in the valve, or the chain to the handle may be broken.

If you need a fast response and experienced service, call Empire Plumbing today. We are available 24/7 and will quickly get your plumbing back in order.

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How to Winterize Your Plumbing to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can create dangerous and costly situations for homeowners. If frozen pipes result in burst pipes, the damage can cost thousands. When temperatures are expected to drop, homeowners can take a few simple steps to prevent plumbing from freezing. If freezing cold is in the forecast, be sure to do a walk-through of your home and take these precautionary measures, so you don’t have to worry about the possibility of a burst pipe.

  • Before the weather starts getting cold, be sure to drain and close all outdoor plumbing, like outdoor spigots and pool piping. In notoriously cold areas, pipes that are close to exterior walls or are un-insulated can be protected with heat cables or pipe sleeves.
  • If there are areas in your home that are particularly cold, like the basement or bathroom, you can set a space heater on a timer to periodically oscillate warm air throughout the room.
  • In extreme cold, leave a faucet on to trickle in the kitchen. The constant movement of water through the pipes will prevent it from freezing.
  • Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinets open. The warm air in the home will be able to circulate around under-cabinet plumbing fixtures.
  • Keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or higher if extreme cold is expected. You can run a ceiling fan on reverse to help circulate warm air if necessary.

If you notice a drastic drop in water pressure, this most likely means that you have a frozen pipe. Call a plumber as soon as possible to come out and prevent further damage. If you can find and access the frozen section, you can use heat pads, space heaters, or even a blow-dryer to try and thaw the pipe while you wait for a plumber. If you suspect that you may have a frozen pipe, or are would like professional help in winterizing your plumbing, call Empire Plumbing today!