The Pipe Surgeon – A Short Explanation of How Your Home’s Drain-Waste-Vent System Works

The Pipe Surgeon discovered a passion for plumbing when he was studying at vocational school.

Drain pipes use gravity to remove wastewater from fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs, and showers, as well as appliances such as washers and dishwashers. Drain pipes connect to a private septic tank or a municipal sewer system.

The Pipe Surgeon

Modern drain pipes are mostly made of plastic. If you live in an older home, your pipes may be made of copper, lead, steel, or iron. Drain pipes pose no health hazards because they are not a part of your home’s water supply system. That being said, lead pipes are no longer produced for use in home plumbing systems.

Drain pipes range in diameter from one-and-a-quarter inches to four inches in diameter. The larger the diameter of a pipe, the more efficiently wastewater can pass through it.

Every drain in your home has a trap. Traps play a very important role in the drain system because they prevent waste gasses from entering the air of your home. A trap is a curved section of a drain pipe that has standing water in it.

Traps are usually located right next to drain openings in sinks and other fixtures and appliances. The water in a trap is flushed away and replaced with new wastewater each time you use a drain.

Drain systems need air to function properly. Air lets water flow freely through the pipes. This is why drain pipes are connected to vent pipes. This system is called a drain-waste-vent (DWV) system. The air opening that allows the DWV system to work is usually located on the roof. Should you have any problems with your DWV system, call the Pipe Surgeon and he will fix it for you.


The Pipe Surgeon Introduces You to Waterjet – Using Water to Free Water

Many of the tried and true methods of cleaning clogged drains have been in use for decades now. The Pipe Surgeon has had great success freeing up blockages with the use of a snake tool, chemicals, or even just good old fashioned hot water. Interesting enough, there is a method for drain cleaning and unclogging that is gaining a lot of popularity in the industry – the use of a waterjet.

The Pipe Surgeon

It makes sense really, use high pressured water to free up and clean out pipes. After all, your home’s plumbing is designed for water in the first place. A waterjet is much safer than using chemicals that may cause damage to pipes, fittings, and other plumbing components. Here is what waterjet use is specifically and some of my most common uses for the service:

1. What is it? – with pumps and hoses water is pressure fed through your home’s plumbing. Special nozzles and pressure adjustments can be used depending on the complexity of the job.

2. What does it Do? – water jets are used to penetrate grease, break up sludge, cut out hardened scale and even break apart tree roots. It also by proxy flushes out the system.

The Pipe Surgeon is one of few plumbing specialists using the water jet in the surrounding Saugus area. Please give me a call for more information about this amazing service.


Using Heat on Frozen Pipes – Cautionary Tales from the Pipe Surgeon

The Pipe Surgeon recommends taking as many precautions as possible to avoid frozen pipes. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there’s really no such thing as being too prepared for inclement weather when it comes to your home’s plumbing. Unhooking any outdoor hoses, running the water when the temperature is below freezing, turning water off when you’re out of town, and insulating pipes should all be part of your Winter plumbing routine.

The Pipe Surgeon

Of course, there are times when either a lack of preparation or ungodly low temps and wind chills result in the unfortunate event of frozen pipes. The obvious solution would be to heat up the pipes to get the water moving again but even this is a very delicate endeavor and one that should be handled with care and caution.

  1. Be Gradual – you want the water flow of your pipes to slowly come back to operation not all at once where a surge could occur.
  2. Use Light Heat – part of being gradual involves using light heat from something like a hair dryer. Putting a space heater near the pipes can thaw them too fast.
  3. Turn off the Water – this is something that should have been done as the cold weather was approaching but still needs to be done now. You don’t want excess pressure in the system.
  4. Unplug Outdoor Hoses – believe it or not your garden hose could be the source of your frozen pipes as it creates an unsafe pressurization in cold conditions. Unhook it all Winter and especially when thawing.

When all else fails, the first solution is usually the best. Call the Pipe Surgeon to avoid any risk of further damage from the big thaw.


Tips from the Pipe Surgeon on How to Clear a Blocked Kitchen Drain

Your kitchen drain has the roughest plumbing-related job anywhere in your home (although the toilet could have an argument.) Quite simply put, the things that go down your kitchen drain and attached garbage disposal are highly unpredictable. While we all intend to practice responsible drain operation, sometimes it’s just easier to dump food, bones, grease, and debris down the drain instead of walk 4 feet to the garbage can!

Kitchen drains put up a good fight, but they can still succumb to issues. Whether it’s an item that takes a long time to build up such as grease or something that creates an instant blockage like bones it’s important to clear the clog as soon as possible. It’s always recommended to call the Pipe Surgeon just to be safe, as here are my steps to clear a kitchen drain backup.

The Pipe Surgeon

1. Baking Soda / Vinegar Combination – first pour baking soda into your drain or mix up 1/3 of a cup. Now, either dump vinegar into the drains or add 1/3 of a cup to the mix and dump the mixture down the drains. The solution fizzes which works to break up the gunk that has blocked your pipes. After letting the mixture sit in the drains for a while, flush it out with boiling hot water.

2. Use a Wet Vac – there are two ways to clear clogs by either 1) pushing them out or 2) pulling them back. The suction of a wet vac may be enough to bring the clog back to you and it avoids the risk of a buildup further down the route.

3. Bent Coat Hanger – if the blockage is close enough you can create your own ‘snake tool’ with a bent clothes hanger. Try and hook the debris and bring it back to you.

If these methods fail to work The Pipe Surgeon is only a call away.

The Pipe Surgeon Tips on How to Clear Main Drain Blockage

It goes without saying that the main water pipe entering your home is kind of a big deal. The Pipe Surgeon would like to reiterate that not only does the main drain allow water into your home, it is also the source of water leaving your property as well. It could be argued that the ability for water to be dispersed from your home is even more important than it entering when you consider toilet waste and gray water from showers, laundry, etc.

The Pipe Surgeon

The main issue surrounding main drain maintenance is access. Your kitchen or even bathroom area pipes are in relatively close quarters but the main drain extends out into your yard and the nearby property. It’s always best to hire a professional when dealing with the main water supply to your house. Some of our most tried and true methods of solving main drain blockage includes:

Boiling Water – sometimes it takes nothing more than scolding water to start to break down debris and create a clear path through your plumbing system.

Chemicals – whether it be baking soda and vinegar, sodium hydroxide, or household drain cleaner many times chemicals are needed to start to break apart blockages.

Snake Tool – This ‘plumber’s best friend’ uses a more physical approach to clean out a drain.

Water Jet – high-pressured water is great for clearing the gunk off the walls of the pipe.

The Pipe Surgeon recommends professional use for all these methods to avoid risk of plumbing damage and personal injury.