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Wednesday, July 15 2020
How to Use a Plumbing Snake (and When Not to)

Drain clogs are a pain to deal with. Plungers can work for minor clogs, but you’ll find that some clogs are too much for this simple implement.

A drain auger, known by most as a plumbing snake, is a wonderful tool for dealing with clogs that a normal plunger can’t handle.

With that said, plumbing snakes are a bit more difficult to use properly. If you don’t use this tool correctly, you can cause worse problems by damaging pipes and causing leaks.

It’s vital you know how to use a plumbing snake the right way. Remember, if you have any doubts about your ability to DIY a plumbing issue, don’t hesitate to call a plumber like Barner Murphy. Better safe than sorry!

How Does a Plumbing Snake Work?

A plumbing snake is a flexible metal cable with an uncoiled spring (the auger) on the end that is used to clear up clogs. They tend to be about 50 feet long. You can coil up your plumbing snake for easy storage when not in use.

As for how they work, you insert the cable down the drain and slowly uncoil the snake until the auger breaks through whatever is causing the clog.

Using the Plumbing Snake

Prepare the Area (and Yourself)

Put on some clothes that you don’t mind dirtying. Grab some gloves and lay towels under the pipes you’re working on.

Consider Removing P-Trap and Trap Arm

This step is optional, but can help you get closer to the obstruction. You may even find the obstruction is in one of these.

But even if it isn’t, removing these makes it easier to get to the obstruction.

Now, if your trap arm is glued in place, don’t remove it.

Thread the Snake Into the Drain

Carefully thread the snake into the drain or into the access point if you removed the p-trap/trap arm.

Emphasis on “careful” here. Forcing the auger in too fast could lead to you damaging your pipes and creating much worse plumbing problems.

Slowly Uncoil the Auger

Begin uncoiling the auger while keeping the snake handle as close to the drain/access point as possible. Stay consistent with the pace of your unwinding. Once you feel resistance, you may have encountered the obstruction.

Carefully Move the Auger Around

Slowly move the auger up, down, and side to side to wear through the obstruction. If you hear scraping sounds, that’s your pipes — readjust so that you don’t cause damage.

If you think your auger is stuck, wind your snake back up. You might just pull the obstruction clean out.

Reassemble and Check Your Sink

Clean off the auger, reassembly any components you removed, then check your sink. There shouldn’t be any clogging issues if you removed the obstruction successfully.

Although unclogging drains with a plumbing snake is one of the easier plumbing tasks homeowners can do themselves, you may not be able to beat the clog.

In that case, don’t try harder. You don’t want to cause costly damage to your plumbing. Instead, you’ll want to call a plumbing professional.

If you have a clog that’s tough to beat in your Bucks or Montgomery County home, look no further than Barner Murphy. We’re happy to help you beat the clog and get your plumbing in full working order. Call us today!

Posted by: AT 08:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, March 24 2020
Why is My Drain Acting Up?

Why is My Drain Acting Up?

Drains are important parts of your plumbing, but they take a lot of abuse — which can lead to various problems, from clogs to bubbling to unsettling noises. No matter the issue, however, there are steps you can take to get your drain back in working order. Here are some common drain problems and their causes

Clogged

Drain clogs often occur when items are disposed of improperly. This happens a lot with kitchen sinks. Many people dump the wrong types of waste down the drain — fats/grease are a common example. The fats solidify after cooling and block the drain.

Clogs may also happen simply from use over time, such as in the bathroom. Hair accumulates in the shower or sink drain and clogs it up.

Backing Up

Sometimes, a drain blockage is the result of improper waste disposal. In many cases, however, a backed up drain isn’t your fault.

In the spring, groundwater levels can increase. This can lead to more water in your drainage system, which can back up your drain.

Leaking

Leaky drains could be caused by loose or damaged drain components. Sometimes, you’ll just have to tighten the nut to stop the leak. However, you may need to take apart your drain to identify any damaged parts that need to be replaced.

A more obvious and observable reason for a leaky drain would be damage to the drain pipe. Putt is usually necessary to fix drain pipe holes.

Bubbling

When you drain is bubbling, that might be a sign that it’s only partially clogged in the drain pipe. However, it could also be caused by a blocked vent pipe.

Your vent pipe allows sewer gas to escape, funneling the gas upwards and out of the roof of your home.

Objects such as dirt, leaves, or bird nest materials can come from above and block the vent pipe. This forces the gas back down, leading to the bubbling or gurgling sound you hear.

If your vent pipe is blocked, your only solution is to call a professional such as Barner Murphy.

Smelling

A smelly drain can be caused by a few issues.

Clogs are a common reason. Clogs provide a breeding ground for bacteria. As the bacteria colony consumes the debris trapped in the drain and continues to grow, your drain will begin to smell bad.

Mold is another possible cause. You want to take care of mold right away, because the gases they release can be dangerous — leading to headaches, dizziness, and nausea, among other things.

Lastly, escaped sewer gases could be causing the bad smell. If your drain isn’t slow/clogged yet it smells, this may the reason.

Making Noise

Drains sometime make obnoxious noises. This is usually accompanied by bubbling, which results either from a blockage or trapped sewer gases.

If you turn on your garbage disposal and hear loud noises, something may be stuck in the blades — such as chicken bones. You’ll have to remove the chicken bones to get your garbage disposal back to normal. 

Posted by: AT 12:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 10 2020
Don't Forget About Your Plumbing When You're Spring Cleaning

Don't Forget About Your Plumbing When You're Spring Cleaning

Spring is almost here. With the warm weather upon us, we can soon crack our windows and open our doors to let the fresh air in.

Along with that comes spring cleaning. Soon, you’ll be furiously vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, and wiping down all surfaces in your home. You might even do some decluttering.

But while you’re making everything in your house shine, it’s important not to forget to give your plumbing a little spring cleaning treatment. Doing so can keep you home life running smoothly while saving you thousands of dollars and plenty of headache.

Here are a few of the most important ways you can spring clean your plumbing.

Empty the Gutters

The winter snow that piled up in your gutters has obscured lots of leaves, dirt, debris, and other stuff. A clogged gutter can cause water to spill over onto your home, causing mold and other water damage.

Make sure you clean those gutters out once the snow starts melting to prevent clogs.

Check Your Pipes

Winter is not friendly to pipes, as temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. Even if you were vigilant about ensuring your pipes didn’t freeze, now would be a good time to check them for leaks, corrosion, or other damage. Call a plumber right away if you find any issues with your pipes.

Clean Your Drains

Drain clogs are nasty problems to deal with. Even if your drain isn’t clogged, it never hurts to perform some preventative maintenance. There are many ways you can use water, vinegar, and baking soda to clean out drains. Alternatively, you can buy a drain snake and use that to keep drains clear.

Check the Water Heater

If you haven’t peeked at your water heater in a while, your spring cleaning would be a good time to do so. Check your water heater’s temperature, but also perform an all-around check of it to make sure everything’s in working order.

Clean Around Your Toilet

Most of your spring cleaning will involve sweeping, mopping, and wiping. Now is a perfect time to deep clean your bathroom, especially the area around and behind the toilet.

Sure, it might be a nasty area, but cleaning around and behind your toilet kills germs and creates a healthier bathroom. Not to mention that the bathroom may smell even better once everything’s clean.

Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals take a lot of abuse, so they deserve a cleaning every once in a while. Giving it a good cleaning will ensure it functions optimally year-round.

In addition, make sure to only put things down the drain that belong. Doing so will further help to keep your disposal working like new.

Need help spring cleaning your plumbing in Bucks County? Call the professionals at Barner Murphy. Let’s prepare your plumbing for the warmer months.

Posted by: AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 18 2020
Proper Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting

Garbage disposals do wonders for your kitchen, giving you an easy way to get rid of small food waste. Thus, when your garbage disposal has issues, you really notice it. Garbage disposals can experience several kinds of problems.

Here’s a list of common garbage disposal issues and how you can solve them.

1. Clogged Garbage Disposal

Clogged garbage disposals are a common plumbing complaint. Most clogs are caused by one of the following:

  • Improper waste disposal (such as pouring grease/oils down drain)

  • Adding too much waste at once

  • Failure to run water down the drain — running hot water helps wash away bits of waste trapped in the disposal

When a clog happens, the blades are trapped. You’ll hear a humming noise without the sound of blades turning.

Solving a Clogged Garbage Disposal

If your disposal has a hex hole on the bottom, you can insert an Allen wrench and turn the blades until they can rotate completely. If it doesn’t have a hex hole, you’ll want a dedicated garbage disposal wrench.

Run water after freeing the blades. If water doesn’t pass through, fill the sink halfway and use a sink plunger until the sink drains.

If none of this works, you’ll need a plumber’s help.

2. Garbage Disposal Wont Turn On

A garbage disposal could fail to turn on for a few reasons. Its motor might be damaged, electric power might not be reaching it, or its overload protector may have been tripped.

Solving a Garbage Disposal That Won’t Turn On

First, check the overload protector to see if it’s been tripped. If it is, find the reset button on the bottom of the disposal and push it. Wait 10 minutes and try again if it doesn’t stay in. Turn on the disposal once you get the button to be pressed up to see if it’s working.

If not, see if the circuit-breaker has been tripped. If it hasn’t, look for any loose electrical connection.

If none of these were the case, call a technician, as your disposal motor may be damaged.

3. Leaking Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals can leak from the top, sides, and bottom.

Solving a Leaking Garbage Disposal

Top leaks are caused when the garbage disposal does not have a proper seal between it and the sink drain hole. You will have to replace whatever item is causing the imperfect seal.

If it’s a side leak, then the cause is a bad connection with your dishwasher connector or drainage pipe. If it’s the dishwasher connection, remove the connection and clean out the pipe and connector. Clamp them back together tightly afterwards.

If it’s the drainage pipe that’s causing issue, it’s likely because the rubber gasket inside has been damaged in some way. Take the drainage pipe apart, clean it out, and replace the gasket; then, reconnect everything, making sure all connections are sealed tight.

Lastly, leaks from the bottom of the disposal unfortunately don’t have a quick fix. See if your disposal is still within its warranty period — if so, the manufacturer should replace it for you.

Posted by: AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 07 2020
How to Keep Your Sink From Clogging

How to Keep Your Sink From Clogging

Sink clogs may seem like a minor inconvenience, but they can turn into a serious problem when left untreated. Not to mention that they can be pretty unpleasant. If you don’t want to deal with the nasty results of an unpleasant clog, you need to take measure to keep your sink from clogging.

Follow these tips to do so.

1. Know What Can Go Down Your Sink

Sinks mainly get clogged by people throwing the wrong kind of waste down the drain. Some of the primary culprits are oil/grease, hair, coffee grounds, and bones.

  • Never put oil or grease down the drain. Instead, scrape it into an old coffee can or something similar. Then, throw it in the trash.

  • Throw away coffee grounds. If you have a reusable coffee filter that you wash using the sink, it’s ok for a few bits of coffee grounds to go down the drain. Keep it to a minimum, though.

  • Use a hair guard for your bathroom sinks. This will catch hairs before they get stuck in the drain and cause a clog.

  • Back in the kitchen, don’t throw food bones down the garbage disposal. They will get stuck in the blades most of the time, spinning around indefinitely.

2. Run Hot Water Down the Drain After Each Use

Sometimes, a little oil or grease may make its way into the drain. Run a bit of hot water after each use to keep the oil moving down the drain.

Additionally, you may consider pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain to wash away any other stubborn oil residue.

Don’t use cold water, as the grease will solidify and worsen the problem.

3. Baking Soda and Hot Water

Every once in a while, you may want to throw some baking soda down your drain before running the hot water. Baking soda does an excellent job of cleaning out extra particles, and it eliminates many foul odors that may arise from food waste.

4. Vinegar and Hot Water

Vinegar is another excellent household sink cleaner. It contains a mild acid — ascetic acid — which can help break down and loosen buildup from food particles and other organic material.

Every so often, pour 1 cup of vinegar down your sink and let it rest for a half an hour; then, run the hot water to wash away the vinegar and buildup from your sink’s drain.

5. Don’t Use Drain Cleaning Chemicals

Drain cleaning chemicals are a tempting solution when your sink clogs, but they can corrode your pipes over time, leading to worse problems down the road for your plumbing.

If you have a serious clog that you aren’t sure how to fix in Bucks County, skip the drain chemicals and call Barner Murphy. Our professionals will get your drain running smoothly in no time.

Posted by: AT 02:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 20 2020
Drain Cleaning

Drain Cleaning

During this past holiday season, you hopefully got to experience family, friends, and lots of food.

But among the festivities, your plumbing systems probably took a hit. In particular, your drains might be clogged.

Drain clogs often happen soon after the holiday season due to large amount of food being prepared and more guests in the home who may not fully understand your plumbing system.

How to Unclog a Drain

Plunger: For smaller clogs, a plunger may be enough to loosen the clog. Start by using your plunger a few times.

Boiling Water: Bring a full pot of water to a boil. When done, pour a little bit of the water down the drain at a time, pausing a few seconds between pours to let the water loosen the clog.

Wire Hanger: Wire coat hangers can reach into tight drain spaces and grab materials causing clogs. First, straighten the hanger as much as possible. Then, bend one end into a hook shape. Now, you can stick the hook into the drain and pull up the material causing the clog. Do this until you think the clog is clear, then flush with hot water.

Vinegar & Baking Soda: Mix about ⅓ cup vinegar with ⅓ cup baking soda, then pour down the drain. The bubbling caused by this science project mixture will help break down a clog. Wait about an hour, then run hot water down the drain to clean it out.

Plumbing Snake: If you have a plumbing snake, this can be used to reach into the drain and break up the clog.

What About Drain Cleaner?

Avoid drain cleaner products. These products might be tempting if you’re looking for a quick clog fix, but they can corrode your pipes over time. Once your pipes corrode, larger plumbing problems can occur down the road.

If the clog is that bad, a professional plumber would be the best choice for the health of your plumbing system.

How to Prevent a Future Drain Clog

Kitchen

Sink: Improper food disposal causes most kitchen clogs. Fat, oil, and grease are the main perpetrators. They’re liquid when hot, but when they solidify after cooling, they clog your drain.

Instead, let any fat, oil, or grease cool, the scrape it into a container you can throw out. When the container is full, put it in a plastic bag and throw it away to prevent leaking.

Garbage Disposal: some think that the garbage disposal can take any waste, but that’s not true. Avoid putting the following down your garbage disposal:

  • Bones

  • Coffee grounds in large amounts

  • Egg shells

  • Fruit pits

  • Celery

  • Potato peels

  • Pasta

  • Nuts

Bathroom

Leave a trash can in a visible location in your bathroom so all waste not meant for any of your drains ends up there.

Sink: Don’t fill the sink with water before shaving. Use drain guards when you shave, and ask that any guests do so as well.

Toilet: The only materials that should go down the toilet are waste and toilet paper. Even “flushable” wipes should go in the garbage.

If you have guests that aren’t keen on that, consider buying a sign that says so. They exist in many forms, from simple to stylish.

Shower: Install a drain screen to catch hairs in the shower. You will need to clean it out after use, but it’s better than a clog.

Do you have an especially nasty drain clog in Bucks County? Don’t dump a bottle of drain cleaning chemicals down the drain — call a professional plumber. Barner Murphy is ready to help your drains get back to work.

Posted by: AT 12:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 20 2017
Bathroom Cleaning Tips and Tricks

    If you’re a home-owner, then you know how important it can be to keep your home, and especially your bathroom. looking and smelling fresh.  At Barner Murphy, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to help you make the most of your precious cleaning time.  With a little bit of creativity and effort, you can have a bathroom that looks and smells absolutely wonderful.  

    Because there are a wide variety of surfaces in a bathroom, it’s only natural for this space to require more frequent and thorough cleaning.  For some people, cleaning the bathroom is one of the most unpleasant of any possible cleaning task.  However, with a simple checklist and a couple of stand-by natural cleaners, you can make the most of your time and walk away with a bathroom and looks and smells great. 

    Cleaning bathroom windows can be a breeze with a little vinegar and water.  Simply make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, add it to a spray bottle, and then spray on any glass surfaces.  You can use either a paper towel or a soft, absorbent cloth to wipe.  Some old, cut-up t-shirts and newspapers also make great window wipers, as well.  Some people like to use micro-fiber cloths, and you can always try out a few of each to see which option you like best.

    For cleaning showers and counters, there are a variety of cleaners and cloths that will make this an easy job to handle.  We recommend trying a few of the following combinations to see which work best for your particular counter needs:  an equal part vinegar and water combination, a baking soda and water paste, a store-bought cleanser that does not contain abrasive ingredients.  All of these options can be used on tile, counters, cabinets and even shower scum.  If you are trying to clean grout, then a simple baking soda and undiluted hydrogen mixture works wonders.  For those wishing to make their own homemade cleansers, the possibilities are endless with a quick online search for recipes.

    When it comes to toilet cleaning, you actually don’t need too many chemicals to give it a good clean.  Try the following:  Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda inside the toilet, then dump a cup of undiluted white vinegar into the water.  Some people use a reusable toilet brush to scrub this mixture and claim that it really works great at removing both stubborn stains and offensive smells.  To wrap up your toilet cleaning, simply spry and wipe down the lid and the bowl with some undiluted hydrogen peroxide. 

Posted by: AT 03:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Barner Murphy Inc. - Bucks County - Plumbing & Bathroom Remodeling
7204 Hibbs Lane, Levittown, PA 19057 | Phone - 215-945-8560


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