Category Archives: Drains

17 Emergency Situations When You’ll Be Glad You Know a Plumber!

Check out this great article from Chadwicks:

“We’ve all been there. The water tank is emitting a strange gurgling sound and we know something’s not right. We call the plumber and pray that the house hasn’t become the Niagara Falls by the time he arrives. We wait on tenterhooks, anxiously watching the clock. Finally, the doorbell rings and there he is. We’re so relieved we want to kiss him.

Instead we get a hold of ourselves and usher him up to the attic. Using wrenches and pliers and working by torchlight, he emerges some time later – t-shirt soaked with copper-coloured grime – and pronounces the job done. Oh the joy of having running water once more! We take a look at 17 Emergency Situations When You’ll be Glad You Know a Plumber – and express our gratitude to all those nifty plumbers who keep our modern conveniences in good nick.”

Courtesy of: Chadwicks.ie

How to prevent hairballs from clogging your drain!

This is a record holding hairball out of a shower drain! We call it “the wookie.” Hair ClogWhen we do service calls for this sort of thing, we not only clean the drain properly to restore service but we also recommend and sometimes (depending on the style / type of drain) give the client a tub/shower hair trap as seen in the following:

Danco Microban Hair CatcherThese hair traps are a great way to prevent needing a plumber in the first place! I think EVERYONE would agree, $5.81 is well spent to avoid and/or prevent a $200.00 service call from a plumber! Not to mention, drain clogs don’t care that it’s Friday afternoon and the in-laws are due to arrive any minute!! You can find one of these hair traps here.

Sutherland Plumbing – Not Afraid of Hard Work!

Sean Anderson earning his keep, jack-hammering through a concrete bathroom floor to repair drain(s).

Sean Anderson earning his keep, jack-hammering through a concrete bathroom floor to repair drain(s).

All about sink overflow holes…

Stinky sink? Many times my clients complain of a constant, persistent foul odor in their bathroom that’s reminiscent of a “wadded up wet towel left in the bottom of the hamper for a week or two”. Oh, no!

Most all lavatory sinks have what’s called an “overflow”. By design it allows water to flow down the drain – in the event the sink were to fill too high – and not over the top & onto the floor. Unless of course the drain was plugged or slow draining but that’s an entirely different story.  The image below is a common bathroom sink with the overflow in the back of the sink. Some sinks have the overflow hole in the front of the sink – same thing just different design. Often this overflow area can collect foul mildew smelling bacteria. Simply flood the overflow hole with plain white vinegar to kill the bacteria. Use a funnel, or perhaps simply cup your hand as to divert the Vinegar into the hole or just let it glug out of the bottle into the hole. Nothing fancy, remember plain white vinegar is cheap and it’s hard to use too much.  Repeat as needed!

Sink Overflow Hole

Ti’s Tips Reminder – Oh no, Clogged Drains!

Hi Everyone!

I’m Ti Sutherland, Co-Owner & Master Plumber for Sutherland Plumbing in Portland, Oregon.  Here at Sutherland Plumbing, we strive to be the Portland Metro area’s #1 family-owned plumbing service.  Our customers receive top-quality work from technicians who are always 100% drug-free.  But that’s not all.  At Sutherland Plumbing we understand the importance for our customers to keep their plumbing systems running smoothly and efficiently all year-round.

So it’s in the spirit of “shared knowledge” that I present reminders from my column – “Ti’s Tips” :

Ti’s Tips Reminder – Oh no, Clogged Drains!

The use of so-called liquid drain cleaners or openers is discouraged! There is NO marvel of design in these products. Most are made of highly caustic acids that only serve to dissolve, eat and destroy anything in their path including your plumbing pipes. Some even go as far as to claim “safe for all pipes” even if the results from using these products are temporary at best. You be the judge. Drains clog for the most part as a result of grease, fats, oils and other matter accumulating inside the pipe. In order to CLEAN the drain one must scour the inside with proper equipment and knowledge. This is commonly referred to as snaking or “rootering” the drain. There is a big difference between “CLEANING” the drain as opposed to “OPENING” the drain. Baking soda and vinegar? Use at your own risk. Those items work best when baking or cooking food and are wasted when poured down the drain!  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!Image

Remember – Don’t throw that down the garbage disposal!

The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps & waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless. These tips can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly: 

1. Avoid putting fibrous foods or tough-skinned vegetables into the disposal. 

The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities, and run the cold water while you operate the unit.

2. Don’t put extremely hard foods into the garbage disposal. 

Items such as bones and fruit pits can dull and even break the unit’s blades! In a worst-case scenario, hard foods will jam the disposal, preventing blades from turning and causing the motor to burn out.

3. Keep grease and greasy foods out of the disposal. 

Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.

4. Contrary to popular belief, egg shells have no place in the garbage disposal. 

Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shell’s stringy membrane layer can wrap around the shredder ring, and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.

5. Avoid putting “expandable” foods such as pasta and rice into the garbage disposal. 

Even small particles of these foods can swell with water and eventually clog the trap.

6. Exercise common sense, and don’t put non-food items into the garbage disposal. 

Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges and plant clippings into their disposal units. These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.

7. Two methods to help tame stubborn garbage disposal odors:

*The first is to freeze white vinegar in ice-cube trays. Put the frozen cubes down the garbage disposal and turn it on. The texture of the hard ice will aid in the removal of odor-causing sludge & grime.

*The second method is “Borax.” This stuff is time-tested and proven to be an effective and inexpensive cleaner & deodorizer. Simply pour a few scoops into the disposal while running the water. I prefer to put the scoops of Borax in the sink and wash it into the disposal with running water.

In order to maximize results, do either of these when you plan on not using the unit for a few hours, like the last thing before bed. This way these products have the best fighting chance to eliminate and neutralize odor. 

The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance; however, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of Sutherland Plumbing, LLC

Garbage Disposal

Garbage Disposal problems? Call (503) 719-4015 & speak with the pros at Sutherland Plumbing. Call today!!

The great reviews for Sutherland Plumbing keep comin’ in!!

“Honest, knowledgeable, friendly service at its best! I called Ti before the impending rainstorm last weekend because our driveway drain was clogged. He was at our door within 20 minutes of calling! I mean really, who does that? He was on his way home but turned around to come help us. Ti arrived, cleared the drain and warned us that he could “feel” the drain was close to a failure. Ti has been doing this so long and knows his stuff so well he could tell the pipe was deteriorating based on the sound & feel of the drain snake as it went through.  I doubt other big drain companies would have such knowledgeable staff. Sutherland Plumbing is an owner-operated business so Ti’s personal reputation is behind every job. Oh, and there was no hard sales pitch on eventually replacing the rain drain pipe! Just a courtesy heads-up that we will have a significant expense coming in the future so we could plan for it. Shalom!

Update: After Ti came out on Friday he called on Sunday to check up on us.  He said he was watching the streets in his neighborhood flood and wanted to see how we were doing.  Our drain was clear but in case it failed in the future he had already called the contractor he had recommended to us for drain replacement and told him about our situation.  Great customer service!”

Josh T – Portland, OR

Don't just take their word for it - Experience the Sutherland Plumbing "difference" for yourself - Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015!

Don’t just take their word for it – Experience the Sutherland Plumbing “difference” for yourself – Call (503) 719-4015!

Plumbing FAQ – Can I flush wipes & similar “flushable” products down the drain?

Q: I’ve recently read some articles which say that utility companies, municipal water companies and the treatment plants etc. are “freakin’-out” because folks have started to flush all kinds of pre-moistened towelettes down the toilet.  This wasn’t so much of a problem in the past.  Apparently these can cause havoc all the way down the plumbing system at the treatment plants.  What’s the deal with this?  Is it really that bad?  Can it affect my plumbing lines or only the municipal systems? Is toilet paper the only thing I should ever flush down the toilet?

A: The short answer is YES the treatment plants are “freaking out!”  Unfortunately, this translates into higher rates for everyone because they have to structure & modify their equipment to deal with all of these so-called “flushable” over-the-counter products like wipes, cat litter, female sanitary products etc. The main issue is this stuff does not macerate well like human waste and toilet paper. (Sorry for the visual!) Eventually everything makes it to a pump system or means of mechanically moving, sorting & filtering (the raw sewer). Some of these “wipes” are just short of a cloth rag. Flushable in that it will flush and go down but it’s no good for any part of the system down the line. Plumbers joke around the water cooler about how great these products are for keeping us very busy!!

The flushable cat litter is just as bad or worse because it absorbs a ton of water & swells up.  This can cause havoc in the plumbing system!

When I walk down the aisle at the supermarket and see a new flushable product I pause to thank the manufacturer for their patronage. This used to bother me more when I lived in a neighborhood forced to pay sewer rates, but now I have a private septic system.

The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code addresses this issue: (Oregon plumbing specialty code chapter 3 - 306.1)

The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code addresses this issue: (Oregon plumbing specialty code chapter 3 – 306.1)

Plumbing FAQ – Can I put coffee grounds down the drain?

Welcome to the first installment of Sutherland Plumbing’s “Frequently Asked Questions!” In this recurring section of our blog we will be presenting real life questions & answers from some of our customers, friends, family & associates. So without further ado, question #1 is:

Q: I have a coffee machine with a washable, re-useable filter. It’s easier for me to just wash the used coffee grounds down the drain as I’m cleaning the re-useable filter instead of putting a paper filter in the trash. Is this bad? Should I be putting the used grounds in the garbage? Is it okay to put used coffee grounds down the drain?

A: Coffee grounds can swell (absorb more water) even further after introduced into the drain, so Sutherland Plumbing always advises folks – no, you shouldn’t put used coffee grounds down the drain.

There are more than a few determining factors why drains slow and clog. It’s usually not one singular event, assuming abuse isn’t the case. It’s analogous to a human’s cardiovascular system & arteries. Poor diet, age, genetics etc.

Have you ever heard someone’s rebuttal to: “dairy, bacon and butter is bad for you.”

Well my gramps ate two eggs, bacon & hash-browns cooked in butter everyday of his life and lived to 99 years old!”

I hear it all the time when I tell people you “shouldn’t put this & that down the drain!”

They say: “I’ve been doing it that way for a 1000 years.”

Then the next service call, the drain is packed full of egg shells and coffee grounds! The determining factors are: The type of pipe and how it was originally installed (genetics). How long and what’s been going down the drain for years (diet & age) and how the system is used.(Lifestyle). See what I mean?

The short answer: it’s best not to put coffee grounds down the drain!

Drain clogged?  You know who to call!  Sutherland Plumbing, LLC at (503) 719-4015!

Drain clogged? You know who to call! Sutherland Plumbing, LLC at (503) 719-4015!

Ti’s Tips – Don’t throw that down the garbage disposal!

The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps & waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless. These tips can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly: 

1. Avoid putting fibrous foods or tough-skinned vegetables into the disposal. 

The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities, and run the cold water while you operate the unit.

2. Don’t put extremely hard foods into the garbage disposal. 

Items such as bones and fruit pits can dull and even break the unit’s blades! In a worst-case scenario, hard foods will jam the disposal, preventing blades from turning and causing the motor to burn out.

3. Keep grease and greasy foods out of the disposal. 

Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.

4. Contrary to popular belief, egg shells have no place in the garbage disposal. 

Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shell’s stringy membrane layer can wrap around the shredder ring, and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.

5. Avoid putting expandable foods such as pasta and rice into the garbage disposal. 

Even small particles of these foods can swell with water and eventually clog the trap.

6. Exercise common sense, and don’t put non-food items into the garbage disposal. 

Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges and plant clippings into their disposal units. These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.

7. Two methods to help tame stubborn garbage disposal odors:

The first is to freeze white vinegar in ice cube trays. Put the frozen cubes down the garbage disposal and turn it on. The texture of the hard ice will aid in the removal of odor-causing sludge & grime. The second method is Borax. This stuff is time-tested and proven to be an effective and inexpensive cleaner & deodorizer. Simply pour a few scoops into the disposal while running the water. I prefer to put the scoops of Borax in the sink and wash it into the disposal with running water. In order to maximize results, do either of these when you plan on not using the unit for a few hours, like the last thing before bed. This way these products have the best fighting chance to eliminate and neutralize odor. 

The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance; however, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of Sutherland Plumbing, LLC. 

Garbage Disposal

Garbage Disposal problems? Call (503) 719-4015 & speak with the pros at Sutherland Plumbing. Call today!!