Why you should hire a professional for drain cleaning and clearing clogs

Clogged drains and toilets are a regular part of life in your home. Before you reach for that drain cleaner, however, you should know that there are benefits to bringing in an expert to clear your sink, shower, or toilet clog. When you hire a professional for drain cleaning, you’re getting access to their expertise, drain-safe tools, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your drain was cleaned successfully.

Hire a professional for drain cleaning here in Albuquerque.

Have a clog? Have a professional plumber out to inspect the issue and clear the blockage.

For fast and reliable drain cleaning services here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, call our team at Wagner. We’re your local drain cleaning specialists. Be sure to check out our specials for ways to save money on our clog clearing services.

Why hire a professional for drain cleaning?

Drain cleaning and clog clearing is a job best left to a professional. Here are five reasons why you should hire a professional for drain cleaning projects in your home:

#1. Home remedies can’t clear the toughest clogs

Some people may swear by them, but most home remedies to clear clogs just don’t work. Many clogs are tougher than they initially appear. Here are some common home drain cleaning tactics and their shortcomings:

Hot water and dish soap

The problem here is that PVC pipes are often not built to handle boiling water. In fact, PVC and the glue at the joints near the sink trap can be damaged by temperatures above 140 degrees. This means that you effectively need to heat water—but not too much—and then hope that it retains enough heat by the time it reaches the clog to re-liquefy trapped grease. It’s a long shot, and this remedy also assumes that grease is the problem.

Coat hanger

Many people use a wire coat hanger to reach into the shower drain and pull out trapped hair. Two issues: first, the coat hanger wire may not be long enough to reach the clog. Second, this may clear some of the hair, but is unlikely to remove all of it. You’ll be right back at square one soon.

Baking soda and vinegar

Again, this home remedy calls for boiling water to be poured down first, which is not recommended for homes with PVC piping. The combination of baking soda and vinegar may clear a mild, weak clog, but it’s unlikely to really impact a deeper, stronger one.

#2. Plumbers have the right tools to get the job done

Outside of a small plunger and a wrench, most homeowners do not have access to the wide assortment of clog-clearing tools that a professional plumber does. Here are some of the tools of our trade and how they help clear a wide variety of drain and pipe blockages:

Plungers

Every American homeowner has a toilet plunger in their home. Professional plumbers often carry several, with different-sized and -shaped plungers playing different roles in drain cleaning projects. The typical plunger, for instance, is highly effective on sinks and drains, but toilets often require a ball plunger that creates better pressure.

A Wagner plumber feeds an auger line into a sewer line.

Sink Auger

Commonly known as a “drum auger,” this is a specialized tool plumbers use to clear sink and shower drain clogs. The auger contains a steel cord. The plumber positions the cord inside of the drain and then turns the auger’s handle to extend it out. As the cord snakes into the drain and around bends, it pushes into and through clogs, clearing them.

Snake Tools

Our plumbers carry a wide range of different snake tools for clearing clogs. The type of clog often dictates the type of snake tool that gets used for a particular job. For example, snake tools with barbs and hooks are better at clearing out shower drains because they can catch amassed hair for the plumber to then pull out of the pipe.

Endoscopic “Snake” Camera

We’ll review more about this in a minute, but this is essentially a specialized snake tool that features a tiny digital camera with a light at the end. Plumbers use this to see into the pipes, typically by feeding the snake into the drain and then watching its travel with the homeowner on a small screen.

Water Jets

While not needed on every job, high-pressure water jets can be used to blast through deep, stubborn clogs. This is preferable to using chemical solutions since the water jet does not harm the pipes or plumbing. Our plumbers will often use water jets to clear significant sewer line blockages.

#3. Store-bought chemicals don’t always work

Take a trip to your local hardware store, and you’ll find a wide variety of drain cleaners available. Many homeowners decide to use these chemicals instead of bringing in a professional plumber, but there are drawbacks:

  • Ineffectiveness: Many of these drain cleaning chemicals are not powerful enough to clear a stubborn clog deep in your pipes. Even when they break through the clog, they rarely clear it out completely, which sets the stage for future clogs in the very near future.
  • Pipe Damage: Avoid drain cleaning products that contain hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. These strong acids may work against the clog, but they can also damage your pipes, sink, garbage disposal, and everything else they touch. According to The New York Times, even the drain cleaning products that say they won’t damage pipes will do some damage to them.
  • Storage: For good reason, many homeowners are understandably nervous about keeping drain cleaning products around their homes. These products are dangerous, especially if accidentally consumed by children or pets. If you do have drain cleaning products, keep them elevated and out of the way in a cool, dark place.
  • Safety: If you are going to use these chemical drain cleaners, you need to clear the area around the drain. Wear protective eyewear and plastic gloves—preferably ones that cover your wrists. Make sure you properly dispose of the plastic bottle in a way consistent with hazardous waste disposal in your area.

For these reasons, our professionals only use chemicals as a last resort to clear a clog. In a vast majority of cases, we can clear the clog with a plunger, our snake tools, or other non-chemical methods.

#4. You don’t know what’s down there

Every clog is different. Many shower clogs, for instance, are caused by the buildup of hair deep within the drain, whereas kitchen sink clogs can be caused by stuck food waste or solidified grease. What the clog is made of often determines how it should be handled. For example, our plumbers may use a plunger to attempt to clear a toilet or sink clog, but that is far less effective on shower drain clogs, where a specialized snake tool should be used to snag, and then remove, the trapped hair.

In other cases, you may know what’s down your drain—and want it back. Jewelry, such as earrings and wedding bands, often is accidentally flushed or sent down the drain. You’ll want the assistance of a professional plumber for this: our team has specialized drain endoscopes—basically, cameras attached to a snake tool—that allow us to look down into the drain and find lost items. We can then use other snake tools to retrieve the item without damaging it or pushing it further into the pipe.

#5. Clogged drains could indicate other problems

A clogged sink, shower, or toilet drain might be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Your home could be experiencing the start of a sewer line clog. Some of the warning signs of a blocked sewer line include:

  • All the drains in your home have clogged simultaneously.
  • The physically lowest drains in the home—typically, the bathtub or shower drain—are backing up.

At this point, you need to stop running the water, turn off the water supply to your home, and call our team for 24/7 emergency service. A sewer line blockage is a serious issue for any home and could lead to a sewer backup.

Clearing just one pipe will not do anything to remove the clog. Sewer line clogs are much deeper in the system. In fact, it’s often the process of attempting to clear the clog—which may include adding more water, continuing to flush the toilet, or adding liquid drain cleaner—that exacerbates the problem.

At Wagner, we’re your locally trusted plumbing team

Since 1928, Wagner has been Albuquerque’s trusted name in plumbing services. When you need to hire a professional for drain cleaning in your home, call us. We offer 24/7 emergency service, and one of our experienced and friendly plumbers can quickly be at your home to clear the clog and get your kitchen or bathroom back to normal.

What is the ideal location in your home for a gas furnace?

As homeowners here in Albuquerque know all too well, winter nights here in northern New Mexico can be downright frosty. This is why many homes here rely on a gas or electric furnace for their winter comfort. These furnaces are typically located in a basement, attic, garage, or utility closet. We often get questions from our customers about whether or not the furnace location matters and what places in the home a furnace can be installed. In this article, we’ll review that topic in greater depth and discuss the ideal location in your home for a gas or electric furnace.

Every home is different. If your Albuquerque or Santa Fe home needs a new furnace this winter, you should give us a call. At Wagner, we offer free in-home estimates on energy-efficient and reliable heating systems. We can match your home to the right furnace and identify the best place in your home to install it.

The ideal furnace location in a home is an semi-enclosed space with enough air supply for the unit.What is the best place for a furnace?

How do furnaces work?

First, let’s review how forced-air heating systems work. The process starts when the furnace pulls room temperature air in the home into the system. Using natural gas, the furnace transfers heat energy to the air through the heat exchanger.

In an electric furnace, the air is pushed past heating elements, but the principle is the same. The blower fan unit then pushes this heated air through the air ducts of your home. The heated air comes out of vents and registers in the rooms of your home, raising the temperature. During this process, the furnace releases ignition byproducts through a vent to the outside air.

What are the factors to consider when choosing a location for the furnace?

Based on this description, there are already some basic needs that need to be accounted for when installing a furnace:

  • Air Intake: The furnace needs to be placed where there is fresh air circulation available.
  • Energy Intake: The furnace needs to be located somewhere in your home where there is either a natural gas line connection or sufficient electrical connection.
  • Venting: The furnace needs to be installed where there is either a pre-existing furnace vent or the capacity to install one in the ceiling.
  • Adequate Space: For obvious reasons, the furnace needs to physically fit into the footprint of that space. However, it’s also important that the furnace has adequate space around it for a technician to address repair and maintenance needs.

Where are furnaces commonly installed?

This unique set of needs means that, in most homes, the architect or build already designated a space for a furnace. The most common places where furnaces are placed include:

  • Basements: In homes that have them, basements are the perfect place for a furnace. The system is kept out of the way but also has adequate space and airflow. The only provision here is that the furnace should be elevated off the ground to protect it against potential basement flooding.
  • Garages: Many furnaces are placed in garages. In many new builds, the garage is designed with a special “alcove” that holds the furnace without sacrificing space for parking vehicles.
  • Utility Rooms: Some homes—especially those without basements or garages—have a specialized room in the center of the house that holds the furnace and water heater.
  • Larger laundry rooms: For reasons we will review below, furnaces and other major appliances cannot coexist in too limited of a space. However, in homes with a larger laundry room, the furnace may be placed there.
  • Attics: In homes with limited space, the furnace can be installed in the attic.

However, not every home has a pre-existing designated space for a system. Older or historic homes, for instance, often featured much smaller heating systems than the modern ones we install today. As a result, their designated space for a furnace is often no longer a good fit, which means that an HVAC professional will need to vet out a different space in the home.

Other furnace location considerations

Furnaces generate heat—and lots of it. So do water heaters, washers, and dryers. Too much heat in one confined space can lead to problems. As tempting as it might be to put all these appliances into one laundry closet (provided there’s enough physical room), you could run into overheating problems down the road.

As a general rule of thumb, every cubit foot of natural gas burned by a gas furnace requires 15 cubic feet of air for intake and 15 cubic feet of air for the dilution of gas byproducts. Most gas furnaces are capable of generating at least 140,000 BTU per-hour. Since one cubic foot of gas is equal to 1,000 BTUs, this means that it uses 140 cubic feet of gas per-hour at its highest speed or 2.3 feet of gas per minute. This means this system needs about 70 cubic feet of air every minute.

If the furnace has to compete against a clothes dryer that also needs fresh air, there may not be enough air intake in a small closet for both systems to use. For the gas furnace, this can result in two outcomes:

  • First, the furnace will not be able to complete the combustion process as intended, which can lead to the buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
  • Second, the inadequate air supply could lead to backdraft gases being sent into the home.

Conclusions

To prevent either of these things from happening, a furnace installation professional needs to:

  1. Take measurements of the home to find the right-sized gas or electric furnace.
  2. Using that furnace’s air supply needs, ensure that the planned space for the furnace has an adequate air supply.
  3. Calculate that needed air supply against the air supply needs of other appliances and vents.

Have your furnace installed by professionals

There is a direct correlation between the quality of furnace installation and the efficiency and safety of the system. An experienced, factory-trained contractor is the best person to install a new gas or electric furnace the right way, and will also be able to advise you on what spaces of your home have adequate ventilation, physical footprint, and gas / electrical connections for the furnace unit.

In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Wagner is your locally trusted team for furnace installation. Our experienced technicians are gas and electric furnace installation professionals. We’re proud to bring the very best service and products to your home.

To get a free in-home estimate on a new gas or electric furnace, contact our team today.