Roger Wakefield on Sewer Lines

[John]: And you’re listening to Talk Radio 1190, I’m John Wolf for the Ask The Experts Radio Show. I’m not the expert, the expert here is Roger Wakefield this week with Texas Green Plumbing. He’s the owner/operator/founder of the company, he’s been in plumbing just about 40 years, handled everything you could imagine. And we’re talking about right now, we want to get to talk about a lot of that sewer line problems. How to prevent them and what to do if you get them.

[Roger]: If you get sewer line problems, some people like to take care of problems themselves and we talk about that a lot. We tell people to be very careful with sewer machines but the thing is to look at your plumbing system and try to isolate where the problem is. If you go out in the front yard and you’ve got two-way clean outs, you can open those two-way clean outs. If they’re full of water, then your stoppage is between there and the main. If you don’t have any water in your two-way clean outs, your stoppage is under the house. The good thing about it is if it’s under the house, chances are it’s not stopping up everything meaning you may just be down one restroom, you may have, you know, one or two more that you can use and not have a problem with and that’d be okay. That way you don’t have to call a plumber out for an emergency. Worrying about a sewer line though the things to remember is, if you’ve got a stoppage things are causing it. Either like we talked about earlier, what you’re putting

down your sewer line. If you’ve got a  toilet, it’s not a trash can. Don’t put, you know, baby wipes don’t put feminine napkins –

[John]: Dental floss, I’ve heard –

[Roger]: Dental floss is bad because that’s like a string and it catches toilet paper and everything else and will create a blockage. So be very careful about what you put down it and that will help eliminate the problems. Because if you have any type breakage or any type belly that will cause a blockage or even water to get out under your house and that could possibly even lead to foundation problems.

[John]: Now I have heard that those blue water products, green water or whatever that people put in to keep their toilet water clean actually can burn through some of the pipes or it can cause damage to your pipe.

[Roger]: The main thing those cause problems for are the flapper, your flush valve inside your toilet. They’re normally not hard enough chemicals to really damage… As long as you’ve got cast iron pipe, you’ve got PVC pipe chances are those really aren’t going to damage your piping system. The main problem that we see with those is they will damage your flapper definitely, but also like I said the flush valve. What we recommend instead of that is, look if your water is that bad go to a water filtration system, you know. do a check, see if you’ve got hard water, see if you’ve got chemicals in your water. They make excellent water filtration systems, they make excellent anti-scale devices that don’t cost that much money and can actually give you better water, not just in your toilet, but in your shower, the water you cook with, water

you drink.

[John]: You know what the big fear is, that you’ll have a small child in your house who will toss something down the toilet be standing there: “Why is the- why is the water coming up?”

[Roger]: We get that call often we – there’s two different products you can – or really one product. Closet auger is one thing we try to go in there with. It’s like a handheld sewer machine strictly made for toilets. Sometimes you can reach in and get things out, sometimes you can’t, sometimes we’ve had to pull toilets because whatever it is gets caught up in there so tight we can’t even get it out.

[John]: I tell people put the big heavy glove on and just reach in there and save yourself some money, if you can grab something. It may just be clogged toilet paper gross as that sounds if you can fix it for free, scrub your hand afterwards and save yourself some trouble because – Especially I found the downstairs toilet is more – I don’t know if it’s a gr- I assume it’s a gravity thing. Less gravity to help you there. That the downstairs toilet is more likely to clog, or is that just in my house and my family.

[Roger]: Probably just in your house, it’s probably the most used toilet but the downstairs toilet is the one more likely to overflow. Because if you’ve got a stoppage downstairs and it’s between that toilet and the sewer line exit, where it exits the house or the main, if somebody upstairs flushes, that’s gonna make that water level rise so of course water’s gonna flow over it to the lowest point.

[John]: Okay so just use the upstairs toilet. We’re speaking with Roger Wakefield of Texas Green Plumbing their website: If you have a question – we’re talking sewer lines right now, but if you have any kind of plumbing question give Roger a call right now at (214)-787-1190 get personalized service for free, right here on the radio (214)-787-1190. And what do you do first if you get to someone’s house and, let’s say an upstairs toilet is clogged and you can’t see anything other than just it’s not flushing right.

[Roger]: Chances are if it’s an upstairs toilet nine out of ten times it’s gonna be the toilet itself, it’s gonna be the sanitary T that is under the floor that the toilet actually drains into. I’m gonna check to see if the tub is draining, because if it has a sanitary T with a side inlet that tub is going to drain also into that sanitary T. If the tubs draining fine then that tells me it is the toilet or the sanitary T before the outside inlet. A good closet auger will take care of that. And guys these these closet augers that I mentioned, you can go to Home Depot, you can go to Lowe’s and buy them. They’re a great product and they’ve got an extendable one that goes six feet. And so six feet in, you can go all the way through the toilet, all the way through the lead bend, down the san-T and you can actually get down closer to the sewer main. So you can spend, I think the big ones like that, the six footers are about fifty dollars but a plumber is gonna cost you more than that to come out there anyway.

[John]: How careful do you have to be in using one so they don’t do more damage than – on the risk/reward – if you’re not experienced as a plumber, of course.

[Roger]: Chances are you’re not gonna you’re not going to damage anything. The worst thing is the cable on it, if you drag it up against the porcelain too bad, you’ll scratch your porcelain a little bit. So that’s why the end of them they have a rubber neck on them. So you slide that rubber neck all the way into where it’s on the porcelain, that way when the cable or spring goes in it actually goes inside the toilet, where the J bend is and takes care of it there.

[John]: Okay I think I got a kink in one of those one time and then it was fairly useless after that.

[Roger]: Once you get a kink in it you can pretty much throw it away.

[John]: So be gentle with it, be gentle. Alright again we’re speaking with Roger Wakefield of Texas Green Plumbing and now let’s get back to the forgetting the exact term but the two valves that you have outside. And you said if it’s if there’s no water in them, I believe that the clog is obviously in the house it’s not getting to that.

[Roger]: That’s your two-way clean out.

[John]: That’s what I said, yeah two-way clean out.

[Roger]: Absolutely. So if there’s not water there that lets you know there’s a stoppage somewhere between there and wherever you are having issues at. And a plumber can normally look in, or even a homeowner really can look in and say “Okay if my clean outs are here, the plumbing over on this side of the house is stopped up, the plumbing over on this side of the house is not stopped up…” That’ll probably let you know that system comes in, branches off both directions and you’ve got an issue on one side. To make a repair like that, first of all you’re going to come in, you’re going to try to run a server machine through it and clean it out. We’ve got different options, we love to clean those lines out. Then we want to get a camera in there because we want to see what the problem is, we want to make you aware of it. And we have a product called Bio One that is actually a cleanser and you do monthly treatments on your house and what it does is it removes FOG: fats, oils and grease from the inside of your pipes. And that can actually create a lot of problems and cause you to have backups just because the inside of the lines are dirty. Another thing that we can do is we can run a hydrojet. If we get over and clean it out with a sewer machine, run a camera down it and see there’s still a lot of stuff built up on the walls, it may be a good idea to go ahead and run a hydro jet then that way it cleans the inside of the pipe. But I would still put the Bio One in it once a month because that’s kind of help keep those lines clean forever. It’s not very expensive and it actually makes it where your system is gonna stay clean so it’s not going to stop up as often so you’re not going to call a plumber as often.

[John]: Good deal, except for you. You mentioned a magic word there: grease. And I always wanted to – look, you’re cooking bacon is it really bad to pour the grease down or is that just something – like my mom always used to coffee can to pour the grease into and then you see how gross it was you think “oh and I was eating this, I am eating it” How bad is the grease if you’re just cooking?

[Roger]: If you actually saw the inside of the lines that we’ve gone in and repaired, you’d understand; it does build up. It does create a way for anything else in there to block up. So if you put a lot of food products down your garbage disposal and let it get in that same line, which that’s where you’re going to pour your grease out, it’s eventually gonna clog up on you it is what it does.

[John]: I know you’ve got your YouTube videos on your YouTube channel The Expert Plumber, how else can people learn more about plumbing?

[Roger]: YouTube’s great. YouTube lets me put out information, and believe it or not I get calls from plumbers saying “Why are you doing that? You’re you’re telling people how to do stuff so they don’t have to call you.” And my thing is I would rather educate people and teach them how to save money, I would rather let people know: look, to call a plumber out and pay anywhere from 100 to 150 dollars for a plumber to come out, look at things and change a five-dollar part that you can find at Home Depot or a lot of toilets, I recommend get online go to the manufacturer let them know what model number you have get the exact part because, again with being green, when you rebuild a toilet if you’ve got a 1.28 gallons flush or even one of these ultra-high efficiency .8 gallon flush toilets and you put the wrong flapper in it, if you just put a generic flapper that you get from Lowe’s or Home Depot now your 1.28 or .8 gallon flush may become a two or three gallon flush. You paid a lot of extra money to get a toilet that will save you money, changing those flappers with the wrong ones can create problems. Go to YouTube, go to the web channel, go to our channel. If you go to the web channel for the toilet that you have you can find information there. If you come to our web page we’ve got a blog, we’ve got great information there. Like I said, we want to educate our consumers and any other consumers about things they can do themselves that helps them save money.

[John]: That’s great and now I’m finding out that all those flappers I bought and put in and thought I was doing something right, maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was doing something ok but I could have done it a lot better I did not realize it was not just a generic size one size fits all. We’re speaking with Roger Wakefield the founder/owner/operator of Texas Green Plumbing. Their website 

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