Why Chemical Drain Cleaners are Bad for Your Plumbing

When dealing with a clogged drain, we often head straight towards our chemical drain cleaner and immediately pour it down the clogged pipe. Chemical drain cleaners may seem like the perfect solution, but cleaning your clog isn’t the only thing they can do. There are some risks involved when using drain cleaners in your household pipes.

Generally speaking, the more you use drain cleaners, the more your pipes can become damaged over time. Let’s take a look at why drain cleaners are damaging and how alternative solutions are beneficial.

Chemical Drain Cleaners are Bad for Plumbing

As one of the most popular methods of clearing clogged pipes,  drain cleaners may seem like a quick and easy solution to a stubborn clog. However, not all drain cleaners are safe for pipes. The chemicals used in drain cleaners need to be strong in order to dissolve drain clogs.

Once applied to a clogged drain, these chemicals react with electrons in the blockage to generate heat and gas, therefore dissolving the clog and clearing the drain. Because of their high toxicity levels, these products are hazardous to your health if inhaled or swallowed.

Different Types of Drain Cleaners

Generally speaking, chemical drain cleaners come in various forms, including gel, liquid, and powder. If your pipes are old, lye, trichloroethane, and other harsh chemicals can do more harm than good. There are three basic types of chemical drain cleaners:

1. Acid drain cleaners – This type of drain cleaner isn’t commonly found in stores and is instead purchased by licensed plumbers. Because they contain large quantities of sulfuric or hydrochloric acid, they are extremely dangerous for your health. Furthermore, they can cause damage to your pipes if used incorrectly.

2. Caustic drain cleaners – This solution erodes the typical “gunk” that makes up most common clogs. It’s typically used for more heavy duty clogs that require dissolving the substance.

3. Oxidizing cleaner – Bleach and nitrates are used to clear blockages by causing organic material to lose electrons and become oxidized. In general, this solution is best for food-based blockages in kitchen sinks.

DIY Drain Maintenance

Drain cleaners dissolve blockages in your pipes with a chemical reaction. In doing so, they are often so powerful that they damage your pipes and even melt right through plastic plumbing in PVC in some cases. Instead, let’s take a look at DIY solutions to clear a clogged drain without causing any harm:

  • Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it sit overnight then flush the drain with hot water. This method can be used with regular drain maintenance at least once per month.
  • Mix baking soda with salt or lemon juice and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for up to an hour and if you need to shift the blockage, pour boiling water down the drain.
  • Pour very hot (not boiling) water down the drain followed by cool water to flush out the clog.
  • Use a drain snake.

DIY Not Working? Call Ihn Company.

No one wants to wake up or come home to a clogged drain. We understand how inconvenient a really bad clog can get, so call the professionals at Ihn Company. We have serviced Southeastern Wisconsin with our commercial and residential plumbing repair for over 30 years. You can trust us to do quality work and put your worries at ease. Contact us today!

Spring Plumbing Checklist

Spring is finally here and that means it’s time for your spring plumbing checklist. It’s safe to say that most of us do spring cleaning, but have you ever thought about a little preventative maintenance on your plumbing? This may seem unnecessary but it can save you money down the road and reduce your chances of plumbing issues in the future. Let’s take a look at ways to ensure your plumbing system is in tip-top shape this season.

1. Inspect Your Toilet Bowls

The first thing to check in the most plumbing-heavy rooms are the pipes. Take a look at your toilet tank and bowl for cracks or leaks. It’s also important to make sure the toilets are flushing properly. To easily check if your toilet is leaking, add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet tank. If the color appears in your toilet bowl, then your toilet is leaking.

2. Check the Area Under Your Sink

After inspecting your toilet, check the water supply valves under your sinks to make sure they aren’t sticking. Remove all of the items from under your sink and inspect the area. Make sure there isn’t any lime build-up on the turn off valves and the bottom of your pipes show no signs of a leak.

3. Take a Look at Your Water Heater

Water heaters have a limited lifespan and typically require replacement after roughly ten years. The temperature of your water heater should be set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding and reduce energy use. Furthermore, a proper temperature allows your home to get the best balance of energy efficiency and performance.

Consider a water heater upgrade if your unit displays any of the following issues:

  • You notice rusty water.
  • Your home lacks hot water.
  • Your water heater is leaking.
  • You hear odd noises coming from the water heater.

4. Sump Pump Maintenance

It’s important to periodically check the discharge lines to make sure that they are working properly. Look around the area where the discharge line is emptied outside of your home and remove any visible obstructions. Additionally, you can evaluate your sump pump by pouring a few buckets of water into it. If the pump doesn’t quickly turn on and discharge the water, you may be in need of a professional inspection to clear the blockage.

5. Don’t Forget About the Outdoors

Next, inspect your yard drains, gutters, and downspouts. These should be cleaned out and free of debris. Turn on your outdoor water to check the outdoor faucets for leaks and ensure the water is flowing correctly. Even a small, constant drip can unnecessarily waste water. Furthermore, it can potentially seep into the ground and damage the foundation of your home.

We Can Help You Complete Your Spring Plumbing Checklist

Overwhelmed by this spring to-do list? We understand that not every Milwaukee homeowner wants to get involved in plumbing repairs. With over 30 years of experience, Ihn Company is your one-stop-shop for all Milwaukee plumbing and foundation repair services. Contact us today!

4 Signs Your Water Heater Needs to Be Replaced

Your water heater is one of the most important features in your home and is vital to everyday living. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy a hot shower, warm water for hand-washing, or laundry and dish cleaning. Did you know that the average person typically uses warm water up to 20 times per day?

With so much daily use, you’re bound to see signs that your water heater needs to be replaced. Let’s take a look at 4 signs you’re in need of a water heater replacement.

Your Water Heater is Leaking

Generally speaking, the life expectancy of a water heater is about 8 to 12 years. However, this can vary depending on the quality of installation, design, and location of the unit. For that reason, there is an increased chance that water may begin appearing on the floor around the tank.

When the water heater is located on the ground level of your home, leaks could result in significant damage to your property, such as:

  • Soaked/ruined carpet
  • Mold due to the absorption of water into your carpet or floors
  • Water damage to your walls, furniture, or electronics

Therefore, a leaky water heater is the most serious problem that can occur and should be replaced immediately.

Your Home Lacks Hot Water

If your shower runs out of hot water each time you use it, it’s time for a replacement. Sediment builds up in water heaters which separate the heat source and takes up space in the system. In short, your hot water heater’s ability to provide your home with hot water significantly decreases.

There are typically three possible issues that can lead to a loss of hot water:

You Notice Rusty Water

Seeing rusty water falling from your pipes isn’t an enjoyable experience. If rust appears in the hot water from your faucets, chances are you have a rusty water heater. On the other hand, there could be an issue with your pipes. Since your piping system is made up of galvanized pipes, rust can inevitably form on the insides.

One way to check if rust is originating from the water tank or your pipes is to drain a few buckets of hot water from the tank. If your water is still rusty by the third bucket, then the tank is the source of the issue and not the pipes.

Odd Noises from the Water Heater

If you notice banging or rumbling noises in your water heater, it may be a sign of sediment building up in your hot water heater. When sediment build-up begins to harden and take up space in your water heater, it makes it difficult for the system to properly heat your water supply. The best way to ensure that your hot water heater does not endure inefficiency or accelerated damage due to sediment build-up is to replace your water heater as soon as possible.

Is Your Water Heater in Need of Replacement?

When water heating accounts for 20% of your household budget, it might be time to look for a more efficient water heater. If you’ve got a cold water problem and your current tank water heater is draining you of time, money and resources, then look no further than your local Milwaukee water heater specialists!

Ihn Company has over 30 years of experience providing services for commercial and residential properties in the Milwaukee area. Contact us today!

What Milwaukee Homeowners Should Know About Their Furnace Filter

Most homeowners don’t think about what it takes to keep the equipment in their home working properly. In general, people don’t pay much attention to their furnace until they no longer feel the heat coming through their vents. Unsure of how to properly take care of your furnace? In order to keep your furnace up and running this winter, you will want to regularly changing your furnace filter.  Read on to learn about the importance of the filter in your furnace and how to keep it working efficiently.

What Does a Furnace Filter Do?

Some homeowners believe that the primary purpose of a furnace filter is to clean and improve their indoor air. While it does to a certain degree, the main purpose of a filter is to protect the blower fan from dust, hair, and other objects that the return duct pulls in.

In general, the furnace filter helps improve air quality because it prevents contaminants from being recirculated in your home. For that reason, not replacing your furnace filter when it becomes dirty or clogged can result in lower heating power and early system failure.

Where Is the Filter Located in My Furnace?

Generally speaking, the furnace filter is located inside the blower compartment (bottom door). However, the position may vary with the installation of your furnace.

Here are two ways to find your filter’s location:

Up Flow Furnace means the air is moving upwards. In this case, the filter would be located in the blower compartment next to the cold air return.

Down Flow Furnace means the air is moving downward. The filter can be found in the upper blower compartment.

How Do I Find the Right Furnace Filter?

You can find out which filter size your system needs by checking your furnace manual. Additionally, you can refer to your existing filter for dimensions. You can then select a filter type once you know what size you need. Although there are a variety of different filter options, the most common is a disposable filter, as they will only need replacing every couple of months.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) created a furnace filter rating system to allow consumers to compare air filters by different companies. These ratings, commonly known as the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV), range from 1 to 20. The higher the rating, the more particles the filter can remove.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, air furnace filters with a MERV, between 7 and 13 is adequate for most homes. When searching for the right filter for your furnace, always check that the manufacturer has a high MERV rating for your furnace.

Not Sure How to Replace Your Furnace Filter? No Problem.

A good rule of thumb is to replace your filter every 90 days and checked regularly for any blockages. Additionally, it may be a good idea to write the date on your filter when you replace it so you know when you will need to change it again.

With your heating system on full blast this winter, it may be time to schedule furnace maintenance. At the Ihn Company, we have heating system experts available 24/7 for emergency Milwaukee furnace repairs. Forget the DIY approach. Contact us today for a free estimate.

Frozen Sump Pump and Discharge Line Prevention

In Milwaukee, it’s not uncommon for excessive rainwater to cause flooding and other damage to basements. To deal with this, many homeowners use a sump pump to remove the excess water and move it away from their homes. But in the winter months, it’s common to have a frozen sump pump discharge line. And if your discharge line is frozen, it prevents the pump from removing water from your basement. Left untreated, this can lead to potentially severe and costly problems.

Here are a few ways that you can avoid a frozen sump pump line during the cold season.

Inspect the Area Around Your Frozen Sump Pump

It’s important that you periodically check your discharge lines to ensure that they are working properly. Look around the area where the discharge line is emptied outside of your home. Be sure to remove any visible obstructions. This is especially important during the winter months as debris, snow, and ice can block the end of the line.

Furthermore, you can look out for these warning signs of a damaged sump pump:

  • Odors
  • Ice or snow blocking the line
  • Sump pump frequently turning off and on
  • Frozen discharge line
  • Clogged sump pump

You may also want to check that it is not discharging water that will eventually freeze, thus creating dangerously icy conditions in a spot that could cause you trouble. In other words, don’t let your sump pump discharge large quantities of water onto your driveway and sidewalk.

Insulate Your Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Lines

When it comes to insulating your discharge lines, there are a few options to choose from. In some cases, simply wrapping your discharge line and intake section with insulation will prevent the water from freezing. In addition, you can pick up a few items from your local hardware store to help with insulation.

Avoid using automotive anti-freeze on your sump pump. Instead, heat tape is an excellent source to wrap your pipes and prevent them from freezing.

Insulating the discharge lines and intake section is a great way to make sure that water remains warm and moves about freely. Also, this can help keep those parts of your sump pump from being damaged by external elements and help you contain any leaks that may have occurred.

Keep Your Water Running

Not only does water freeze when it is especially cold, but it freezes when it isn’t moving. If water is unable to flow throughout your home, the water within your sump pump is more likely to freeze. If this happens, the sump pump will no longer work. Additionally, redirecting some of the excess water away from the basement will help to lessen your sump pump’s workload. Overall, this prevents it from overworking itself and lowers the risk of a frozen discharge line.

Add a Slight Slope to Your Sump Pump

Gravity provides one of the easiest methods to prevent a frozen discharge line and keep the water flowing. Keep the water flowing by letting gravity do the work for you.

Try to make the sump pump lines go at a slope instead of a straight line. Even if you don’t have a natural slope, you can make one. You can create a slide that turns into a drop-off or even a trench at the end of the sump pump line.

Call Ihn Company

It’s not too late to check over your sump pump and drainage line to ensure everything is working properly. If you’re not sure if your equipment is up to par, schedule an appointment with a professional.

Ihn Company is your one-stop-shop for all Milwaukee plumbing and foundation repair services. Contact us today and save yourself the money and headache of unexpected problems arising.