Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Blog

Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Blog

Concrete Sewer Lines NEED a Sewer Camera Inspection

by Aardvark Rooter on 11/14/18

In our blog, we’ve talked about sewer camera inspections OR “sewer scopes” and how they work to give you (and the expert tech you’ve called upon) a great look at how your sewer line is holding up. Also, we’ve discussed that there are older sewer lines materials that are more or less prone to fail, collapse, your become root-intruded. In the Seattle and Tacoma areas (and in many areas in between) there are quite a few homes built before 1980 that are starting to see their concrete sewer lines crack or fail altogether. To give yourself the most options for replacement, you’ll want to get a sewer camera inspection as soon as possible! 

Concrete sewer piping (which is no longer used in new construction) has a life span between 50-70 years in most cases---and that’s without any special circumstances that could speed up the erosion or degradation. Many homes in this area are in or even past this range and could have their sewer collapse on any given day. Do you have a concrete sewer line? Are you even sure what your sewer line is made out of? If it is, in fact, concrete, do you have any idea what kind of shape it’s in? Do you know how you would go about replacing the line if it does collapse or show signs of major degradation? These are the questions you should be asking. Aardvark Rooter is here to help you walk through a responsible way of getting out ahead of this issue, and maybe you’ll even want to give us a call to come and help directly (if you live in the South King or Pierce County areas, of course). 

Point #1: ANY sewer piping material, even the new PVC materials can become compromised. The shifting of the earth and tree roots can cause cracks or breaks in almost any line. So, if you know it’s concrete or ceramic---then you know you’re on borrowed time. If you’re not sure, then your first concern is that you aren’t experiencing slow drains, or aren’t having to call a “rooter company” (like us) to come out often just to clear roots.

Point #2: You need a sewer camera inspection to see how your sewer line is doing. If you are having routine sewer line backups (once a year or so), you can’t keep just having a drain cleaning company just “clear the line” and then make them go away. What you need to do is get a look at the line. YES, you will need to have the line cleared first, so if you’re the kind of person who’s needed to call a drain cleaning company out already, just MAKE SURE to ask about a sewer camera video inspection. This costs more, but it’s SO VERY VALUABLE in what it can uncover, and you’ll want a technician who KNOWS side sewers well. The video is only truly valuable when an experienced eye can guide you in what you’re looking for. You will also be able to pin down what type of sewer line you actually have.

Point #3: Old concrete sewer lines can be replaced multiple ways, until they break or crumble. If you get ahead of the issue, you will be able to choose how your side sewer is replaced and possibly BEFORE it shuts down your home’s drainage. If the sewer camera inspection shows that the line looks weak, but has no significant breaks, or “bellies (where the pipe falls through at the bottom),” then you will have the option for a trenchless sewer replacement.

The two main trenchless sewer line methods are pipe-lining, and pipe bursting. Without getting into too much detail on those, you’re looking at two methods that do not require the old pipe to be excavated with a long trench, but instead push or form a new pipe down the middle of the old one. This is a great way to preserve your yard and landscaping, but it’s also more expensive. The bottom line is that if you wait until there’s a break in the line, you won’t have any options for trenchless replacement.

Point #4—FINAL POINT: A sewer camera inspection, therefore, is the way of being a responsible homeowner and getting clear information on your sewer line. Most folks wait until things break and cause a big problem before acting. Just know that a sewage backup can cause major damage to your home in some cases. Even if the collapse or break doesn’t cause immediate damage, you’ll need to shut down your home’s drains while the sewer line is fixed and hooked back up. Don’t you think you’d like to be able to PLAN for this kind of work to be done?

If you are interested in a sewer camera video inspection, which leaves you with a DVD copy to keep, then give us a call. Aardvark Rooter knows sewer and drain lines, and we work with them much more than your average plumbing company. If you’re not in the Seattle or Tacoma area, then make sure you find a company that specializes as a side sewer contractor.

Water in the Crawl Space? It May Be Rain Water, and We Can Help!

by Aardvark Rooter on 05/11/18

We are a “rooter” company and our main desire is to help the homeowner with their sewer problem: sewer  back-ups, roots in the line, aging pipes, offset pipes, out-dated pipes, and more. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have witnessed record rainfall in the last year and a half, and it’s doing it again at the start of this year. We are getting calls from people with crawl space water accumulation. But, you’ll be interested to know that this can come from a number of sources and for a variety of reasons. We can help with all of them, as you will see, but there is a new type of issue that we must address.

Many customers have been calling us about water accumulation in their crawl space areas under the house, and when we ask if their water bills have gone up, the answer is “No”----that means no leaks from their water supply system. Next, we check on their drain and usually find out that it’s not sewage in the crawl space, so this fluid is not coming from the drains in the crawl space or under the house, which we can tell by observation.

So, what is this mystery problem? We are finding more and more failures in the home rain/storm system.

Let’s break down the areas where water flows outside the home when rainwater comes down:

1) Gutters – If gutters are in good condition, they should be cleaned and all debris removed 1-2 times per year.

2) Downspouts – These are the vertical drains taking water and debris from the gutter down to the ground. When gutters are cleaned, downspouts should be cleaned and cleared too. Some homes have downspouts that drain into the yard, which are easy to get cleared at cleaning time. If you live near a lot of old growth trees, you may have to clear the downspouts more often (Side Note: always make sure that drained water goes away from the home’s foundation).

3) Perimeter Drains – These drains are buried. They are usually tied into the downspouts at corners around the home. They usually accept water from your roof/gutter/downspout system. The runoff is usually directed to a city storm system, a culvert, or other runoff area not affecting your neighbors. If annual cleaning is neglected (cleaning them should be done at the same time as your gutters and downspouts), the perimeter drains can back up from all of the runoff. It is a good idea to have 1 or 2 cleanout connections so that you can get to these lines and clear them out too. These can be done by a company like ours with cabling or jetting capabilities.

If the perimeter drains are taking on water, it’s because they are backed up, then the excess rain water will flow to your yard or possibly into your crawl space. In order to fix this, you can get a drain cleaning company like Aardvark Rooter to help. If the perimeter drains are solid pipe ABS or PVC we can cable the line, and if they are corrugated ABS, then you are going to need a hydro-jetting service, which we can also do. Once you get those perimeter pipes clear and clean, the water will flow correctly and you’ll have your exterior storm drain system keeping your home safe from water damages again.

The main idea here is that your water and storm drainage system can be treated JUST LIKE your sewer line and sewage system in many cases. In fact, sometimes these pipes break or collapse, and must be repaired or replaced so that you don’t have water seeping and collecting in your crawl space. To find the exact problem, we actually would use our sewer line camera technology to locate and understand the nature of your issue before actually digging it up.

If a new pipe must be installed, we’d always recommend a solid pipe with drain holes throughout, plus a filter sock over it, and to have it buried in a rock bed, top and bottom. This will accept all the water from roof, gutter, downspouts, and even the groundwater, pushing it all away and not allowing any into your home’s crawlspace.

The bottom line is this: Rooter/drain cleaning companies like Aardvark Rooter have all the tools to work with your drainage system and to help figure out how to keep you water flowing, just like we do with your drain lines. If you’ve got water collecting in your crawl space or any other symptoms of a backed up storm drain system, please call us and allow us to diagnose your problem and provide an affordable solution.

Drain Cleaning Requires The Right Tools in the Right Situation (Part 2)

by Aardvark Rooter on 10/18/17

Here's the second part of "Drain Cleaning Requires the Right Tools in the Right Situation". Here's where we dive into clearing a sewer line issue specifically and going beyond "cabling" the line.

Sewer Camera Inspections

When cabling a line, the technician will usually want to run a sewer camera down the drain, whether they are successful in cleaning the drain or not. If the drain clog is caused by roots for instance, the blade may be able to cut up the roots and clear the way (thus, providing the name for "Rooter" companies like us, "Aardvark Rooter"), but there is then the underlying issue of how they are getting into the line. A sewer camera inspection will let you know EXACTLY what is going on in your main sewer line and will help you plan for a repair, a replacement, or at least a regular drain cleaning schedule to keep your drain line flowing. Some back-ups are caused by offsets or separations in the pipes---this would call for a “spot repair”.

It seems like added expense, but this is the BEST time to have a sewer camera inspection done. You will be able to look at the line yourself and most companies leave you with a DVD (memory sticks or Youtube access are also used) to refer back to later on. Plus, there is a benefit to having this done by a technician who clears clogs for a living, as opposed to the home inspection companies who offer this service and really don't understand much about plumbing and drains comparatively. General home inspectors also cannot determine the depth of a repair spot because they aren’t equipped with locating devices.

Hydro Jetting

Hydro jetting is another great way to clear your sewer lines. There is some overlap between cabling and jetting the line. Some of the difference is in cost and some is in performance. The high powered water at the nozzle of a hydro-jetting machine can clear almost any clog from your drain line.

There are but a few instances where you'd choose cabling over jetting. The reason lines are usually cabled is because the charge for jetting is usually higher. Companies like ours try to do the least costly option first in order to save you money. Jetting machines have different nozzles for "pushing" or "pulling" material in the main drain line, and the sheer power of the water pressure can break apart hard material, like tree roots, as effectively or MORE effectively than cabling blades. In fact, there are nozzles that are specifically designed to cut tree roots! 

So, it's the most powerful option, and it's even more necessary if your clogging issue is caused by grease or gunk that needs to be truly cleared from the line, as opposed to being broken up by a cabling. In many cases, it's worth the cost for your peace of mind to go ahead and have your lines jetted and then followed with a sewer camera inspection.

Here's hoping that these tips and complete walk-through of the drain clog and cleaning process helps you understand your system better. We, at Aardvark Rooter, love to be a resource for folks out there, and love even more the opportunity to help customers directly. Please, if you live in the South King County or Pierce County areas, call us up and see what we can do for you and ANY of your drain stoppage issues. We not only know what we're doing, but we do it as economically as anyone around.

Drain Cleaning Requires The Right Tools in the Right Situation (Part 1)

by Aardvark Rooter on 08/24/17

Often times, when folks talk about clearing a drain or a toilet that is having issues they use terminology that is sort of general. Many folks refer to all forms of clearing clogs as "snaking the drain". In actuality, there are many different types of stoppages in and around your home, and different tools or configurations that are best for each situation. Here's a bit about the tools of the trade, and why it's usually better to begin with a company that approaches drains with expertise instead of messing with the issues yourself. 

The Clog

Let's say you wake up and sometime in your morning routine, you notice that the toilet is backed up, and you hadn't even used it that day. Now, it could be a simple clog left by someone else or even you from the day before. Whoops, right. So, first you grab the plunger and try that. This is a good thing, but if it doesn't work and get the toilet draining again, what do you do?

The problem at this point is that you could have a very simple issue or a very complicated one. The stoppage that isn't allowing your toilet to drain could be occurring in a number of places and could be caused by a number of culprits. 

Toilet Augers and Drain Snakes

The first step in handling the clog is sometimes done by homeowners themselves, but you begin to use tools that you may not already own. This first step is the toilet auger or snaking phase. A toilet auger can be a couple of different lengths, but ultimately, it's only meant to clear the toilet lines and maybe a very short distance into the main drain line. The base of your toilet is a P-trap (like under your kitchen sink) before it drops in the sewer. Passing through the P-trap can be very tricky.

For other drains, like the tub or kitchen sink, there are snakes that help to hook and pull out (for instance hair in the tub drain), or break up clogs. Though you can attempt using an auger or a snake on your own, someone who knows how to use these and has a higher grade of tool is less likely to damage your drains or fixtures. Also, they will likely know right away if what they are doing is solving the drainage issue.

Check For A Main Line Backup

A separate tip for knowing if there is a clog in your MAIN line, would be to check if the LOWEST drain in your house is having issues as well. The tub or shower on the lowest floor will likely be the first to have a backup, and this will affect the entire home's drainage. Main drain issues are at least less scary (in that they aren’t so mysterious), but you will want to take care of this ASAP, before sewage begins to come back into your tubs, showers, or (Yuck!) sinks. 

Cabling the Lines

If your issues go beyond the fixture and you realize that the clog is further down the line, now we get into the area where "cabling" becomes the answer. Plumbers have a couple of different sized cabling machines. These come with blades at the end and help to cut up the material or objects that are blocking your lines. They have the length to go from your homes clean-out or, if necessary, from a toilet drain after the toilet is pulled off.

This is where a professional really is the best answer. You are dealing with powerful machinery and even the professionals may get these stuck if they are not careful. The good news is, that cabling the line will clear most issues from the fixture into the main drain line, and then anywhere in the main drain line out to the sewer or septic tank. It is very important to know that cabling needs to stop before it gets to a septic tank to avoid damage at your tank’s inlet.

Cabling the line also gives the drain technician (or plumber) the flexibility to use some different sized bits (or blades) on the end of the cable, depending on the type of clog and size of the pipe and the material it is made from.

What is the MOST COMPLETE way to clear a line? What is the best way to SEE what other problems may exist? Read on in our next post: "Drain Cleaning Requires The Right Tools in the Right Situation (Part 2)."

This is Part 1 of 2 for covering the tools and methods of drain cleaning. Next post will go into Sewer Camera Inspections, Sewer Repairs, and Hydro Jetting!  If you'd like more information or if you live in South King County or Pierce County and we can help you directly, please call Aardvark Rooter today!

How to Get ALL NEW Sewer Lines Installed On Your Property

by Aardvark Rooter on 10/20/16

Thinking about developing a property? Maybe you're building a home for yourself, or you could be building a house to sell for profit. Or, maybe it's just that your home is on a septic tank and you’d like to connect to the city sewer system (King County happens to be encouraging this, by the way). If you have any of these circumstances, you're gonna need to have ALL NEW side sewer lines installed. We'd like to show you the steps you can follow to get this process started: 

1) Visit your local sewer provider. Go to their offices and request ALL of the information they can provide about the sewer availability on your parcel. Here are the possible answers to this inquiry: 
A) A sewer connection may not be present—“undeveloped”. 
B) Your property may require a “pump system” as well. 
C) In order to get bids from sewer line contractors, they will need exact information about where the connecting stub will be and the depth of that stub. 
D) If the city wants you to install a stub, make sure your sewer line contractor can arrange and install a new connection on a “live” city sewer line (this is also known as a “saddle”). 
E) Pay connection fees and obtain ALL permits while you are there. 
F) Obtain a roster of the locally-approved side sewer contractors that are licensed with that jurisdiction. 

2) If you are leaving behind a septic system, you need to visit the public health department as well, for their instructions on properly abandoning and/or decommissioning the old septic tank.

3) Once you have all of the information and have paid your fees, you are then ready to call some contractors. You can schedule them to come out, look at your project and provide detailed bids (Aardvark Rooter is glad to do this for customers in our service area!).

4) If you want to develop several properties, you may have to contact a larger company, but rest assured that smaller companies can work just as efficiently if you are planning on doing one at a time (or only one in total).

5) You must be prepared for the work to last several days and maybe a little wait time added in order to have it inspected and approved.

Aardvark Rooter specializes in side sewer and drain work, so we’d advise that you find a company like ours that has experience, resources, and an overall focus on handling these jobs. Many general plumbing companies do this work as well, but the expertise may not be there. Also, these jobs include some amount of risk, so please double check that your contractor is licensed and insured before even getting a quote.

New Plastic Pipes Won't Conduct Electricity. You'll Need New Grounding.

by Aardvark Rooter on 05/09/16

Do you have an older home that now needs to be repiped? Before the piping job you may also have to think about electrical grounding and if the electrical grid for the house is attached to your current metal pipes.

For homes constructed in the last century plumbing pipes were made out of black iron, galvanized iron, or copper. Over time these pipes will begin to wear, usually degrading from the inside, and customers may request that these need to be replaced with modern materials made of plastic. Plastic pipes in short, tend to be a much better option. They are now used because they do not corrode, and are a quicker, inexpensive piping option. But you've got to consider your electrical grid when making your new piping change.

To some folks this may sound odd, but when metal was the prevalent material used in pipes, electricians would commonly ground your electrical panel by attaching it to your metal water pipes. So, what happens when your pipes are replaced? Well, they will need to have a new connection point that does not involve your plumbing, because of course, your new plastic pipes won't conduct the electricity. 

According to the National Electrical Code, wiring should no longer be connected to the plumbing due to the use of plastic as well as the non-conducive fittings. Your home’s electrical grid should now be connected to an independent grounding rod or rods that are connected your house’s foundation.

Grounding rods can be driven into the ground near your foundation. It is recommended that they go down 8 feet or further. An electrician can install these rods and connect them to your panel. There are also other ways to address this issue but you should look into this before you re-pipe your home.

We hope we've helped you to at least be aware of this issue, and if you upgrade to the better plastic piping, this could be a serious issue. You can read some more information about this from If you have additional plastic pipe, home safety, or any questions regarding plumbing please feel free to give Aardvark a call---ask for Fred!

Garbage Disposal Tips: Foods To Avoid Putting Down Your Disposal

by Aardvark Rooter on 02/14/16

When you have a garbage disposal on your kitchen sink, it may be tempting to put all your food waste down the disposal. Not all "garbage" though, is meant to go down the drain, and can cause some unnecessary clogs in your pipes or even a breakage of your disposal unit. So, you probably know not to let non-food waste go down your sink ,but it may be hard to decipher what is acceptable to put down your disposal and what foods you should put in your compost or landfill box. Below we have compiled a list of things to avoid putting down the drain and also some foods that are OK to go down the kitchen sink.

Foods you should NOT put down your disposal:

1) Avoid disposing any types of fats or grease down your sink. Although the grease may go down easily at first, as it cools it will solidify and can create drainage clogs and ugly back-ups. Grease can also be hazardous for your disposal blades as it can layer on the blades and make them less effective. Be very aware of your disposal of fats because letting grease go down your pipes can create an immediate costly problem. 

2) Do not put down carb-based products in more than trace amounts. Rice, potatoes, pasta are examples of carb based foods that expand over time when exposed to water. This can effect your pipes by creating blockages- especially when larger amounts are sent down.

3) Fibrous foods should not go down your disposal. This includes potato peels, parts of onion, lettuce and other stringy veggies. The fibrous strings of these materials interfere with the proper running of your disposal’s blades.

4) Prevent egg shells from going down your kitchen sink. Egg shells do not sharpen the blades in your disposal (a common myth) and they can wrap around your shredder ring or even create clogs farther down the line.

5) It may seem obvious but bones and pits should not go down your sink as your garbage disposal is not strong enough to effectively break those types of items apart.

These foods that you CAN put down your garage disposal (IN MODERATION ONLY):

1) Liquids (that do not contain fat or grease) can go down your disposal.

2) Finely chopped, or pureed, non-stringy foods. These types of materials is what your disposal is made to handle. Remember to run cold water before and after you add the foods to ensure that the food gets all the way down the drain. 

3) A small amount of ice cubes. Sending down a few ice cubes can help with food residue and may even help clean your disposal.

Taking care of your garbage disposal will save you time, money and help you avoid unnecessary breakdowns. If you have additional garbage disposal questions or any questions regarding plumbing give Aardvark a call.

Slow Drains at home? Here are some of the reasons why!

by Aardvark Rooter on 10/20/15

Have you noticed your drains are running slowly? It may be hard to pinpoint the main issue or blockage though. The problem could be right at the pipe opening, farther down the pipe, or anywhere in the drain line. A slow drain may not seem like a big dilemma but should be dealt with quickly to avoid major clogs, sewage backup, or further damage to the pipes. 

The first important step is to see if there is a clog in the drain trap or the fixture. For this you can call a plumber or the do-it-yourselfer can handle the blockage if the cause of the backup can be visually identified.  Make note that you should never use chemical drain cleaners in your pipes. Using any chemical drain cleaning products can cause a bigger problem and even erode the inside of the pipes. If you cannot see the origin of the back-up then you may have a larger drainage issue.

A licensed plumbing company can locate clogs further down your drain lines. In many instances, your main drain line can cause backups into your home---if you have water backing up into floor-level drains, then you definitely need to get a plumber on site to diagnose what is wrong. A licensed professional plumbing company can pinpoint the cause of the slow moving waste-water or blockage using drain cleaning tools and sewer camera equipment. 

You may have a sewer line clog caused by something that was flushed down the toilet or from normal build-up over time. Clogs could be anywhere down your line causing sewage to back-up. Do you have older pipes? There could also be a problem with tree root intrusion. When roots infiltrate your pipes they may begin to crack the pipe, break into it, and block proper drainage. Sometimes it's major breaks or collapses that occur in your main line. A cracked or crushed line can cause sewage flooding outside your house and other damage, and of course, stop any waste flow out to the street or septic tank. No matter how simple or involved the issue, it's fixable, but you'll want to find a drain specialist to diagnose and recommend solutions to you, the home owner.

When you have established the need for any type of plumbing work- especially for drain problems- call upon us at Aardvark Rooter. First and foremost we have drain experts and specialize in drain and sewer line issues. We always provide quality, professional service, after expert diagnosis, and at an affordable price. Aardvark uses sewer camera inspection technology to find the problems with drainage, and we can clear lines, break up roots, hydro-jet to break up grease or other tough clumps, and/or replace a broken sections of line. We do it all! If you have any questions about your drains give us a call today!

Sewer Inspections Done By General Home Inspectors? Yeah, not so much.

by Aardvark Rooter on 07/10/15

There is an interesting new trend in our new market, and possibly in other places around the country. Suddenly, it appears to be that home inspectors have realized that sewers are a part of your home! Now home inspectors are getting involved with your sewer, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for you.
For many years it seems that as homes have been bought and sold, the sewers have been largely ignored. The health and working order of the sewer line is not even considered as a part of the overall home value and condition. Your home owners insurance is a prime example as well. You may not realize until you need a repair, but your insurance probably won't cover any sewer line breaks caused by a root infestation. A new sewer line that is vital to your home, which costs thousands of dollars, and you’re not covered---it's ridiculous!

Now it seems, where there's money to be made, home inspectors have woken up to the idea that the sewer needs to be included in your home's value, and therefore the inspection. Many inspectors now come equipped with a sewer camera and locating devices. A sewer camera inspection is a valuable service that the inspector can now charge for, and in some cases, they do an adequate job with this. In most cases, though, these professionals are not experts in this field and have very little experience. 

Rooter companies like us at Aardvark Rooter that do drain cleaning and plumbing year-round, and have technicians with 20+ years of experience, should be handling the sewer camera work. Recently, we have looked at recorded videos where we disagree vehemently with the inspectors' opinions and recommendations. Why wouldn't you hire a company that has been locating sewer issues, marking them on the ground above, excavating, and repairing them on a regular basis for many years? The evidence thus far suggests that this part of the home is best left out of the home inspectors' hands as it has been for decades.

Having a general home inspector perform this highly-specific and technical work is akin to having your general doctor handle your colonoscopy. It's risky and not nearly reliable enough. How many inspectors had ever performed this sewer camera work, let alone diagnosed anything properly before the past year? The answer is: not many. This field is best left to those with specific expertise. With the proper company out at your home, if something does happen to need work, you can quickly get a proper bid to get it right! Make sure not to waste your money on an unreliable opinion and call a sewer expert at your trusted plumbing or rooter company. It just makes a lot more sense for you, the homeowner.

Sewer Camera Video Inspections: How this Technology Benefits You.

by Aardvark Rooter on 04/08/15

Are you experiencing a slow moving drain? Is your drain line clogging up? Then it is time to call an plumbing and drain cleaning expert with all the professional experience and equipment to properly diagnose and solve the issue. 

One of the newer technologies in the drain cleaning world is high resolution in-pipe camera inspections— also called “video snaking” by some out there. Sewer line video inspections help accurately pinpoint your plumbing issue so it can be fully resolved. These little cameras take all the guess work out of drain line problems. 

How does the video inspection work? 
A drain cleaning technician will come out to your residence with a hose-like camera. With a blockage, they will usually run their snake first to try and clear the sewer line for the most part. They will then put their sewer line camera down the main sewer line and as the camera travels you will be able to see video of your pipes. The camera can travel all the way to where your pipes connect to the city's sewer main or your septic tank—even going around corners! 

How does the video find my clog? 
If you have a blockage that was not easily cleared by snaking, or a recurring issue that needs to be inspected, the video can give a better picture of what's going wrong. Through the process of traveling your pipes the plumber will be able to diagnose what is causing the block or slow moving drain. The camera will stop at the blockage point and the technician will use a transmitter above ground to identify the exact location of the problem. Also through the video the plumber will be able to see the cause of the issue. 

They will be able to identify whether it is a broken or punctured sewer line, a root intrusion any issue or a misalignment. Having a video inspection when you are having a drain issue will save you money by avoiding unnecessary repairs or replacements by being able to accurately diagnose the origin of the problem. Also, the camera can be used after the repair to verify that there is no additional clogging. 

At Aardvark Rooter we use inspection cameras to save our customers time and money and to know the best method to fix the problem.  It's all a part of being thorough and giving homeowners the full picture of what needs to be fixed and what does not. If you live in the Tacoma, Federal Way, Puyallup, Auburn WA, Kent, or Renton areas, we hope to be your drain cleaning expert! If you have any additional questions about sewer line cameras or any other clogging issue give us a call today! 

How are your water pipes Federal Way, Auburn, and Tacoma?

by Aardvark Rooter on 01/06/15

Are you aware of the water quality being provided to your home?  Here are some tips on finding out what the quality of your water is, if your pipes are any sort of a risk, and then steps you can take to handle any issues with your current water supply and piping.

1. Your local water district should provide you with an annual report or water analysis---usually by mail. You should become familiar with this report and read it when it comes to your home.

2. When water comes out of your taps does it smell funny?  What about the good ole' "eye test"? Any signs of impurity when you look at your water? Dark flecks are clearly not a good sign. If your water passes your "eye test" and smell test, then that's a good thing.

3. So, what if your water has a few flecks, or the eye test makes you suspicious in some way? Well, find out how old your pipes are.  Are they copper or galvanized pipes?  

If your home's pipes are approaching 50 years or more, than we would definitely recommend replacement.  This is because copper and galvanized pipes tend to rust out inside the pipe and flecks get free.  These flecks can plug supply lines and stop valves in your home, and also reduce your water pressure. On top of the flecks, these old pipes can easily fall apart if they are contacted in any way causing leaks and needing repair more and more often.

4. Before any kind of major breakage or repair is needed, you can avoid problems by planning the replacement of your home's pipes in advance. Don't let these older pipes cause you to have an emergency on a late night or weekend, where it is hard to find help, and the water damage can be very costly. Get ahead of the problems, get a couple of bids and find a plumbing company that you trust to handle this.

5. This information applies to your water supply from the meter to the house as well.  It's an underground line that usually runs through your front yard. If it is older, it could be degrading, and you'll want think about proper replacement before a breakage occurs and you pay extra for water that leaks back into the ground.

6. Once you replace these older pipes and some of the older angle stops in your house, your water pressure should improve and your water quality should improve as well!  You may also want to look into a water filtration system, but that may be an article for another day. 

Water Line Breaks, Water Main Installs, and what you should know about them.

by Aardvark Rooter on 08/19/14

Your home's water line, or the water main, as some refer to them is what supplies your whole home with fresh water. It runs from the meter (the street) to your home and therefore, can truly vary in length from home to home. It's pretty easy to take this underground pipe for granted until it cracks or breaks. The resulting water leakage can pool in your yard, or in many cases, you won't find out until your water bill skyrockets and the utility sends you an alert about a possible breakage.

Can you prevent water main line issues?  Well, it's usually not a preventable circumstance, unless you know that your home is over 65 years old, and has never had a new water line put in.  In this case, it may be wise to just go ahead and have the line replaced. 

If a leak or break in your water line occurs, then you are better off having the whole line replaced than simply having part of the line repaired.  If it comes from a freak digging accident or something (yet, you should be calling 8-1-1 before you dig anyhow), it's understandable to do a "spot repair", but realize that 4 or 5 spot repairs would cost you more than a completely new underground water line.

When you do have to replace a water line these days, there are some great options for material and installation method. A very popular choice is the Wirsbo Pex water line material. For you water main install, these are safer, easier, faster, and they tend to have a much longer predicted longevity. It's nice to get an upgrade if you're investing in a new line!

Also, there is also a great option for water line installation that can save your yard and landscaping from excavation.  Directional boring is available where the new piping is "tunneled" underneath, with only two small holes needed on either side of the installed line.

Two other tips for a water main installation: 1. If you ever get your line replaced, it's also a good time to make sure your water shut-off valve is in an easy-to-access place: and 2. This is a good time to check on your water pressure. If the pressure measures 50-80 psi, you are okay.  If higher, you should plan on getting a pressure regulator valve (also known as a PRV, or a pressure control valve) installed at the same time. High water pressure can significantly decrease the life of your faucets, valves, angle stops, and even your appliances, as they stress out the internal systems of each.

If you should need any help or need any of these water main installations in Federal Way, Auburn WA, Tacoma, or the surrounding areas, please feel free to call upon us at Aardvark Rooter!  We're glad to be your expert for all water line breaks and water line installations.  253-946-4158

Plumbing Install in New Homes vs. Service Plumbing

by Aardvark Rooter on 05/13/14

Installation of new plumbing during construction of a new home is commonly referred to as "rough-in" plumbing. The skills, knowledge, and abilities of a plumber are not truly put to the test in a Rough-in situation, as it is simple and straightforward. The experience required to service and repair plumbing in a home that people have been living in, is far greater.

Replacing whole fixtures are not too difficult for most plumbers, or even some novices.  Generally, any plumbing situation where you don't have to get into the walls, and you get to work with an entirely new system, is easier. For clearing drains, detecting leaks, and diagnosing mechanical errors, you need the experience of a plumbing technician who has seen a lot of repair situations.

Our company's main focus is clearing drain and sewer lines.  These are the most difficult because, for instance, you side sewer line is underground. Finding out what's wrong is sometimes the bulk of the work.  We have the drain cleaning ability to snake the line, use hydro-jetting, a mechanical cutter, and to really inspect what's going on, we can send down a sewer-line camera.  Your sewer can be simply clogged by an object/objects that are flushed down, you can have roots growing into your line, or your line can be broken altogether.  

One can see all of the things that could be wrong when your plumbing backs up, and then all of the ways we can go about finding and solving the problem----it makes a complicated job, even for the experienced plumber.  If the line is broken, we have to put on the construction hats and excavate the ground to either remove and replace a section of the sewer line, or the whole thing! This isn't something you trust to just ANY old handyman.

There are stories of plumbing companies getting calls for funny smells and it turns out to be only a dead rodent under the house, or a possible plumbing leak that was actually just the children missing the toilet---not a leak. Veterans of our profession know how to get to the bottom of odd situations much faster.

A good service plumber will know how to repair faulty sinks, toilets, and waterheaters, but it's very important to listen to the plumbing recommendation.  It's very true that even when an area can be repaired, the better call is just to replace the whole fixture: toilets, sinks, etc.  Water damage can result from failure of plumbing parts and patches---and usually the replacement is nicer and not a lot more expensive a fix.

The next time someone tells you that they know plumbing, because they know plumbing construction, please realize that the skills and abilities of a plumbing service technician are far more advanced.  This is even more true of drain, sewer, and water-line situations.  Do the right thing and contact a licensed, experienced, and reputable service plumbing company.  If you live in Tacoma, Federal Way, Auburn, or Puyallup, may we suggest using us at, Aardvark Rooter?  Let us know!

Rooter Company? What's a "Rooter" Company vs. a Plumbing Company?

by Aardvark Rooter on 04/03/14

First, let us say that Aardvark Rooter is BOTH a "rooter" company (hence the name), and ALSO a plumbing company in Auburn WA.  We handle Plumbing Federal Way, Tacoma WA, and Puyallup can depend on, but the point is that these days most "rooter" companies handle all kinds of plumbing issues.

What is a "rooter" company?  This refers to the process of sending a snake down a sewer drain line and grinding up tree roots that have grown into and caused a clog in the drain line.  This is a process that has been going on for about a century, since in-home toilets became common.  Tree roots will reach toward moisture naturally, so if a tree is growing anywhere near a sewer line, they will eventually grow toward and possibly "intrude" your sewer line.  This leads to backing up into your fixtures and house (YUCK, by the way).

These days it's probably better referred to as "Drain Cleaning", and (since about 1980), most houses are built with better sewer line materials than were used ever before.  PVC and other new materials keep roots from creating root intrusions much better than old materials like concrete, ceramic, and such.  Sewer lines are less likely to brake in general.  That is why older towns like Seattle and Tacoma have much more need for sewer cleaning and repair, even replacements.  There are many more old homes in those cities, so companies like ours are in far more demand to solve drain issues and replace old sewer lines when necessary.

Like we said, these days most plumbing companies handle drain cleaning and "rooter" work along side they're normal household repair services.  In our case, Aardvark Rooter is proud to have the word "rooter" in our name, because although we handle almost anything the average plumbing company does, we want it to be known that we are a Plumbing and Drain Cleaning EXPERT! 

There are specialized machines and tools that a true Drain Cleaning specialist must have.  Our capabilites have grown to include sewer camera inspections that can allow us to know visually if we have a clog, a root intrusion, a brake in a sewer line, or if we have sewer line that is in need of replacement.  After a camera inspection, we can figure out the best method to clear the line, or where to begin digging for a sewer repair or sewer replacement.  You can see that although a plumber may know how to work on sinks, toilets, and water heaters, it doesn't mean they'll have the expertise and experience to work on your main drain line.

If your plumbing issues have anything to do with your clogging and backing up of water, you will be better off looking for a company like ours first.  Better to have a drain cleaning specialist that can take care of plumbing issues, than a simple plumber who is trying to figure out your drain issue.

The difference between a Plumbing company and a drain cleaning specialist (or Rooter company) is becoming very small.  But, you will save yourself a lot of time and money if you make sure your drain issues are handled by a company with real drain expertise, experience, and tools of the trade. 

Aardvark Rooter is the company for you if you are looking for Sewer Repair or Drain Cleaning in Tacoma, Federal Way, Auburn WA, Puyallup, or the surrounding area! 

Sewer Line Cleanout, do you know where yours is?

by Aardvark Rooter on 12/03/13

Do you know what it means to have a cleanout for your side sewer? Many homeowners and business owners don't give this too much thought until their side sewer line backs up and needs to be cleaned out, hence the name "cleanout". The cleanout provides direct access to your sewer line, or main drain line, as some refer to it.

Sewer line backups usually cause your toilet to overflow or your bathtub to be filled with sewage. The house is now totally out of order! You can't bathe, shower, use the toilet, do laundry, use the kitchen sink, the dishwasher, or use vanity sinks. This isn't a problem you can procrastinate on, but what are you going to do?

You should look for a plumbing company, or better yet, a company that specializes in Drain Cleaning and clearing work, such as us at Aardvark Rooter. The company you call is going to want to know what kind of access you have to clear out the main sewer line. Do you know the answer to this question? You definitely need to know!

What you're looking for is a pipe with a twist-off top that will make getting to your main drain clog much easier. If you have a basement, there is probably a "vertical stack" with a cleanout near the entrance On the floor level. Without a basement, you need to know where your sewer or septic line exits the house. Just outside the foundation in your garden, you might find a cleanout. Sometimes there is a cleanout in your main floor bathroom or in a closet behind the bathroom.

If you can't find your cleanout, then you need one. If a plumber comes out to your home, he will most likely want to sell you one. They will usually want to dig right outside your foundation where the line leaves the house. This is a good idea because sometimes the cleanout in the basement is so backed up, when you open it up all of this sewage will come out into your basement. The best place for a cleanout is outside on the lateral line. This way, if you have a spill, it is easier to deal with, since it is in the yard, as opposed to inside the home.

If you don't have a cleanout and are not interested in getting one installed, then the drain cleaning equipment is accessed by removing and then resetting a toilet. This will add $100 to the total job of clearing your drain. if you want to save. If you have never done this before, you might be better off paying the extra money, as opposed to risking a property-damaging mistake.

If you would like to have a cleanout installed, you will probably want it just outside your foundation. Prices can vary depending upon how deep the plumber will need today to reach the mainline. The plumber can use camera and locating equipment to determine the exact depth and location of the pipe.

Once you have a clean out, you can be in control of your mainline backups. Not only is it easier to get in and clear the line, but if you absolutely have to, you can open the cleanout and allow sewage to spill into your yard as a sort of relief valve. It's only in the case that you are risking having the sewage backup into your home.

Having to clean out in place also allows you to bring your sewer line up to current construction codes. Older homes may have a clean out but it may be buried or hidden. Sewer lines backup for many reasons, but the most common is rude infestation or intrusion. Roots can be treated for many years by having them cut out once each year. There are root growth retardants and some claim to actually kill the roots, but aren't always successful. Your cleanout is the doorway to this maintenance.

If you don't already have a cleanout in place, it's a great idea to save up and have one put in! We'd be glad to help.

(Aardvark Rooter is proud to serve both plumbing and drain cleaning needs: Drain Cleaning and Sewer Repair in Tacoma, Federal Way, Auburn WA, and any other South King County or Pierce county area)

Sewer Line Backup Warning Signs

by Aardvark Rooter on 08/14/13

As many of our customers know, Aardvark Rooter is a drain and sewer line specialist! Thus, the word "rooter" in our official name, which refers to clearing drains from root intrusions and such. As a specialist in this field, we want to be here reminding you of what you need to look out for and when to call a professional such as Aardvark Rooter to come help our with a clogged or damaged drainage system.

Of course, it's our business to get involved with these types of issues, but we don't want to do anything for you unnecessarily. We only want to do the work you need done, when you need it. That said, we still didn't want you all to simply take our word for it, so instead of producing our OWN list of what to look for, we used a separate list as a guideline for what we want you homeowners to aware of (You can find that list at ).

The article we found on does begin with, "a sewer drain clog is a very serious problem that can be considered a plumbing emergency".  Our first point therefore, is that you shouldn't waste any time getting drain clogs fixed. If you have a company you trust, get them out right away---hopefully you've already found an honest company like ours, Aardvark Rooter, to come help without a lengthy negotiation and bid process. You really may not have time to collect three accurate quotes in a situation like this. It is your choice as the homeowner, but just know that time is of the essence.

Here are the signs that you may have a sewer drain clog:

1. Multiple Fixtures Are Clogged - A very obvious sign of a sewer drain clog is when more than one plumbing fixture backs up at the same time. The toilets in particular are affected by this, but other fixtures can also be involved. If you suspect that you have a sewer drain clog start by checking other fixtures in the home.

Make sure to check out your Toilets - Toilets have the most direct path to the sewer and the biggest drain line in the house. It is rare to have a main line sewer stoppage and the toilets are working correctly.

Also check your Tub and Shower - Other drains typically affected by a main line stoppage are those in the tub and shower. This is due to the fact that they sit lower down than say a sink drain.

2. Strange Reactions When Using Fixtures - The next thing to look for when you suspect a sewer drain clog are any unexpected or unusual reactions when using plumbing fixtures.

Flush The Toilet - If flushing the toilet results in water backing up or coming up into the tub or shower this is usually a clear sign of a sewer drain clog. The flushed water that can not go down the sewer drain flows back up the pipes and comes out at the lowest point which is usually the shower drain.

Run The Sink - Another strange reaction to look for is trapped air in the plumbing system. Do this by running water in the sink closest to the toilet for a minute or so. If the toilet bubbles or you can see the water level in the toilet rising then the clog is very likely in the main sewer line and not in the toilet.

Washing Machine - An unexpected sign of a sewer drain clog can happen when you run the wash machine. If the water draining out of the washing machine causes the toilet to overflow or backs up into the tub or shower it could be the sewer main.

3. Drainage At The Clean-Out - If you have a main line clean out, you have an additional way of verifying a sewer drain clog. Open the clean out by either unscrewing or pulling to remove the cap. Check the clean out for any waste or water that may be backing up there. You should not be able to see the water coming up the clean out pipe. If water is flowing up and out of the clean out or standing in the pipe this confirms that you have a main line sewer stoppage.

Thank you to for that info. We want to make sure you understand that we will handle any and all of this diagnosis for you, especially if you are afraid of causing water to overflow into your home. Aardvark Rooter simply wants to be "up-front" about what is and is not a backup of your entire system.

Our hope is that in working with us, you will see that we understand these drainage systems at an expert level. When we get onsite, we will begin the process of finding the main problem and either getting your line cleared out by one of our many methods, or we will identify a possible breakage of the line that can also be the cause of a backup. Our company does many cleanouts and has all of the capacity to dig-up and replace part or all of your sewer line very affordably.

Give us a call if you are noticing any of the signs of a sewer line/main line back up. We'll be glad to assist you in whatever the issue may be, even if we discover that the issue is smaller and only related to one of your fixtures---We're a full service Plumbing company Federal Way, Auburn WA, and Tacoma have been using for years!

Tips for getting a good plumber in Auburn WA, Federal Way, or anywhere else!

by Aardvark Rooter on 06/18/13

We've all seen the consumer advisory type reports on contractors and seen the lists of "Tips on Finding a Plumber" or auto repair technician, or roofer, etc.  These lists are generally good guidelines.  A bidding process for each and every plumbing emergency isn't always possible, and even when getting three bids is possible, it's not always the best measuring stick or comparison. You'll want to consider the quality of the company, the quality of the work, and what kind of history they have.  Some of this could cost you if you don't know about, say, their insurance, licensing, and bonding information.

Here's what Aardvark Rooter did for anyone reading this article and looking for a good plumber in Auburn WA, Federal Way, and Tacoma areas:  We took one of these general tips lists, and re-shared it here, providing OUR answer to each of the concerns.  Now it's all out there for you to see even before you call us out!  Here are the tips that we found on ( ), and our replies.

1. Check to make sure that they have a plumbing license. The most basic rule is to be sure that they're licensed and carry full insurance that protects you and your neighbour's property in the event of a catastrophe.

Aardvark Rooter is licensed, bonded, and insured.  We have licensed plumbers that we send out to you.

2. Get two or more references and read online reviews. You can even ask to see some of the work they have done. Read their Facebook page and twitter feed to see how they are interacting with their customers.

Please DO check us out. We have won an Angie's List Super Service Award for three years running.  We also have great reviews all over the web and on Facebook.

3. Ask how long they have been in business for.

We've only been in business as Aardvark Rooter for about 5 years, but Fred, the owner, has experience working at and managing for several area plumbing companies.  He started this company with the vision of being even more ethical than the average plumbing and drain cleaning company.

4. Get another bid/quote for the job but make sure you are comparing apples with apples. Some companies strip their jobs back to the absolute minimum so they can come in at the lowest price, but the work won't last the longest possible time. Ask the company that is more expensive why their price is at that level, so you can determine if there is a difference.

This is a fine means of comparison.  Ultimately, a good consumer should find a company that has served them well a couple of times, and then use them when there is no time to compare. Unless you sense something amiss with the pricing, you should try to work toward finding a company that you can trust your plumbing and drain system to.

5. Ask about their guarantee. Is it money back? Is it limited in any way? Is it written on your bid/quote? Plumbers with great belief in their performance standards put their money where their mouth is.

Aardvark Rooter guarantees it's work.  It's important to talk about it every time out though, because there are always instances where we cannot warranty certain work, or jobs where we are asked to do something we don't initially recommend. We do encourage folks to talk to us if they are unsatisfied in any way.

6. Finding a plumber who gives pricing for small jobs over the phone isn't necessarily the sign of a good plumber.

Great tip here.  A good plumber usually wants to see your exact situation before quoting the job. 

7. The real key is to get flat, fixed quotes so you know exactly what the plumber will do and exactly what you will pay.

Most of the plumbing industry is "flat rate" priced now, but you'd be surprised how often folks want us to quote an hourly rate. This tip is also correct.  Get a flat rate total from one of our technicians after they've seen the situation at your home or business.  This is a sound way of doing business with any plumber.

8. Ask neighbors or nearby friends for plumbing referrals. The best way to find a good plumber is to have referrals from people you trust. Ask a friend, relative, or colleague you trust for a recommendation.

We agree again. We get great recommendations from our people and they bring great customers to us. Ask away!

9. If you've had a good experience with another professional, such as an A/C repair technician, a roofer or an electrician, try asking them for a referral.

This can be a good way to find a plumbing company too, but you'll still want to check them out on the other measures listed above.

Hopefully, by answering the tips that a completely different source has laid out, we can show that we aren't afraid to measure up to even the highest standards customers may have.  In fact, we believe that Aardvark Rooter will prove to be a very good choice if these steps are followed.

Do it yourself drain cleaning? Watch out!

by Aardvark Rooter on 04/14/13

Everyone has had the unfortunate experience of a stopped up toilet or sink. Many of you then tried using a plunger, or perhaps one of those snakes purchased at a local hardware store, to no avail. These things can definitely get complicated.

Some of the more adventurous types will go the DYI (Do It Yourself) route and rent a full sized auger to run through the clean out for their house piping system. Simple, right? Just turn it on and let the auger scour the pipe. If you've got direct access to your drain line, and if all goes well, that's great, but there's more than a few things that could be going on that will get things complicated fast. 

Pipes can become clogged for one of two primary reasons, a large object or collection of objects flushed down the toilet (some accidental stuff, and some collection of normal waste) or tree roots protruding into the drain pipe. If your drain is clogged by things that have been flushed down, the line can most likely be cleared. But if the problem is tree roots, well, things could get a little ugly.

Tree roots protruding through a drain pipe means there is a break in the pipe. If you attempt to use an auger you could easily cause further damage to the pipe and run in to some serious costs. Homeowners are responsible for drain piping up to the point where it ties into the public service utility. If your drain pipe breaks underneath your lawn -- it's yours to fix (and to pay for). In many instances, clearing out the roots can be done without making matters worse, but they will grow back, and need more clearing year after year.

Older homes often have clay pipes or plastic. Even with protrusion by the roots, it doesn't mean that you have to replace the pipe. However, if you cause further damage through your own efforts, you may have no other option than to get an entire sewer line repair

Even if it is just a washrag or child's toy that got stuck in the drain, improper use of an auger can still cause damage. Besides that, it's not a pleasant task. It can be a very dirty, smelly job.

The best way to ensure your drains are properly cleaned is to hire a professional. In our case, we can follow all of the proper steps to make sure we do only what's necessary, and if a bigger fix is needed, such as a new side sewer line, we can take care of it. 

Aardvark Rooter's plumbers know how to properly inspect and clean drains -- and at a reasonable cost. We have all of the equipment, including sewer line cameras, to make sure we are doing the right thing for you and your plumbing and drain systems. The next time you find yourself dealing with a clogged drain, take the hassle out of the equation and give Aardvark Rooter a call. We've been proudly serving Federal Way Plumbing and Auburn WA Plumbing and drain cleaning needs for years, and we'd like the opportunity to show you what complete drain care looks like!

The NEW blog for Aardvark Rooter!

by Aardvark Rooter on 03/17/13

Well, first off, we hope you enjoy our brand new website and find it very easy to use. Aardvark Rooter is proud to serve our local communities with experienced Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Services.  We've been performing expert drain cleaning Federal Way and Auburn WA have been depending upon.

We'll be using this blog to educate, announce news, talk about our services, and maybe even throw some fun stuff out there. We know that the Plumbers Federal Way and Auburn WA already have are numberous, but we hope to continue and show value to each and every person that chooses us. The technicians and staff here at Aardvark Rooter are dedicated to our craft, but also to being a resource and a reliable friend for you and your home. You'll find us to be among the most affordable plumbers, and drain cleaners in the area!

Be sure to follow us on facebook and/or twitter.  We will broadcast our blog posts and special offers on there. If you have friends around the area that need a great drain cleaning or plumbing company, remember, we serve all of Pierce County and King County.  Tacoma Plumbing jobs, Puyallup Drain Cleaning, Des Moines Sewer work---all of it is with our scope and range. 

We look forward to proving our value, affordability, and expertise with you and yours.  We hope you'll give us the opportunity to serve you, OR to serve you again!

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