We’re your local plumbing team here in Hayward, San Jose, and the Bay Area. We provide emergency plumbing repair service. Call us when you need water heater repair, maintenance, or other services. We’re a full-service plumbing company with experienced plumbers on our team.

Sewer line issues: Here are the signs of a cracked or clogged line

Okay, let’s be honest: your sewer line is probably one of those things in your home that you don’t really think much about… until something goes wrong. But, what does something going “wrong” even entail with a sewer line? What do you even look for?

In this blog post, we’ll break down both the causes of sewer line woes and the signs you need to look out for to indicate that you need plumbing repair.

If your home has a sewer line clog, our plumbers can clear out the line using an auger, like the one pictured here.

If your home has a sewer line clog, our plumbers can clear out the line using an auger, like the one pictured here.

If you suspect that your Bay Area home has sewer line issues, contact our team here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We offer emergency line inspection and repair services in Hayward and beyond. To get started, give us a call at (510) 471-8181 or contact us online.

Causes of sewer line issues

Here are three of the most common causes of sewer line problems:

  1. Your sewer line can clog if the line is obstructed by what’s popularly known as a “grease-berg”. This is a collection of grease, oils, fats, and other material—typically poured down the kitchen sink—that collects in a physical mass, until it eventually clogs the entire 6-inch line. (Read: Here’s an example of what this looks like on a larger scale!)
  2. Your sewer line can also clog if obstructed by trash. This is why it’s not recommended that you throw anything that isn’t biodegradable down the kitchen sink or toilet. We’ve seen q-tips form the basis for a major clog!
  3. Your sewer line can crack if a tree root—searching for water—breaks into the pipe and begins to fill it. More on this in a minute!

To learn even more about the common causes of sewer line clogs—and how you can potentially prevent a clog from forming—check out this blog from our team.

4 Signs Of Sewer Line Problems

Here are the four big signs of sewer line troubles:

Simultaneous drain clogging

Think of your home’s plumbing like a river that is fed by multiple smaller streams. If you were to dam one of those creeks, it might not impact the larger river all that much, and the river would continue to flow downstream.

Pictured: Sewer Line Repair

This is what removing and repairing a ceramic sewer line looks like.

However, if you dammed the large river, the water from the entire system would have nowhere to go, and would start to rise above the banks. What’s more, that water would get pushed back into the creeks, and they’d flood, too.

A single clogged sink or kitchen drain is like the stream in the analogy. You might need our drain cleaning services, but it probably doesn’t mean you have a sewer line clog.

A sewer line clog or blockage is the damming of the river, in that your entire home’s plumbing is going to backup. If the line clogs, all of the drains in your home will clog simultaneously. That’s when you need to drop everything and give us a call for emergency plumbing repair.

Wet ground above the line

A cracked sewer line that leaks can be a major problem. Before we get started, think about the answers to the following:

  • When was your home built? If your home was built in the 1980s or later, it likely has a PVC sewer line. PVC can crack or collapse when put under pressure (more on that in a second), but with no outside duress, it should last for the lifetime of the home. Older materials—such as cast-iron or clay—are durable, but don’t have quite the lifespan of PVC.
  • Where does your line run? Find your sewer cleanout lines and determine where the sewer line runs from your home to the municipal sewer. For many homes, the line runs to the street.
  • What’s above the line? Now that you know where the line runs, what’s above it? Take note of any trees, bushes, or other yard foliage.

Trace the sewer line’s location and look for any abnormal “wet” spots on the ground, when there has been no rain and there’s no irrigation for water to pool there. If it’s right above the line, this may be a sign that your sewer line has a leak.

Trees or bushes above the line

If there’s a tree or bush right above or near the line, you should be extra wary. Over time, tree roots dig deep in search of water. Roots can destroy or block sewer lines even without a leak, but a sewer leak acts as a positive feedback loop for the tree. As they find water, the roots snarl around the line, breaking into it.

Tree roots are a common cause of sewer line clogs here in the Bay Area. Even a tree that’s feet away from the line can have roots that find their way to it.

Sewer odors outside and inside

If you step outside and your yard smells like a garbage heap, that’s a pretty good sign that something is wrong. A cracked line will emit sewer gases, which smell about as great as you might assume.

Sewer smells inside the home could indicate the same problem, or they could indicate that the sewer trap plugs aren’t doing their job. Either way, we recommend giving us a call. We’ll diagnose whether you need your traps fixed, or if the issue is more serious.

Schedule a sewer inspection

All of the signs above are good indicators that something is wrong with your sewer line. However, the only way to be 100% sure that’s there a blockage—and to know what exactly is causing it—is to schedule a sewer line inspection from our team here at ABC.

The best way to see a clog is to, well, actually see it. We have specialized cameras that we place on lines to go into the line and identify the problem before digging things up. Depending on the type of clog, there may be a way to clear it without opening up the line.

For service in the Bay Area, turn to the experts at ABC

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we know our way around sewer lines and the problems homeowners face. Our experienced, expert plumbers are plumbing repair experts, and we offer emergency service in much of the Bay Area, including Hayward and the East Bay.

If you need emergency service or you need a sewer camera inspection, give us a call at (510) 471-8181 or contact us online.

For emergency clog clearing in Hayward, call our plumbers

During this time of uncertainty and mandatory business closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are still providing essential HVAC and plumbing services here in Hayward and the East Bay. This includes our emergency clog clearing and drain cleaning service. If your home has a clogged drain, our team is here to help.

The team at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is standing by and ready to help address your home’s urgent plumbing repair needs. If you have a clogged sink, shower, or toilet, call us right away for fast, 24/7 service here in Hayward and the Bay Area. Our team specializes in drain cleaning.

Why hire a plumber?

Some toilet, sink, or shower drain clogs are just too tough for your ordinary plunger. If you have a clog that just won’t come out, you’ll need to have a plumber take a look. Our team of plumbers has the experience and equipment needed to clear even the toughest, most stubborn clog.

Here are just some of the professional-grade tools of the trade:

  • Snake Tools: Our plumbers carry a wide variety of snake tools for reaching and removing obstructions deep inside of drains.
  • Drain Augers: These are specialized snake tools that are motorized and can quickly cut through a clog deep in a drain or pipe.
  • Hydrojets: To clean out the pipe and completely remove any remnants of the clog, we use a high-pressure water jet that flushes debris off of the pipe’s interior walls.
  • Endoscopic Cameras: In some cases, our plumber may need to scope out the source of the obstruction to best figure out how to clear it. To do this, we use specialized snake tools with small cameras attached at the end. This allows our plumber to see deep into the pipe and view the obstruction.

Avoid using drain cleaning chemicals

While many of the drain cleaning chemicals available in stores advertise themselves as safe for your drains and pipes, it’s generally not a good idea to turn to these highly corrosive chemicals for regular drain cleaning purposes. Over time, the extreme acidity of these chemicals can eat away at older metal pipes and harm PVC ones, as well. Additionally, drain cleaners are dangerous to have around your home—especially if you have small children.

As a general rule of thumb, our plumbers will avoid using drain cleaning chemicals to clear household clogs. Most clogs are more effectively and safely cleared using professional tools than with a chemical mixture.

We are here for your home

Our team of expert plumbers and HVAC technicians at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is here for your home throughout the current COVID-19 outbreak. Read more about the precautions our team is taking to protect you and your home, and be sure to call us for all your 24/7 emergency service needs here in Hayward and the East Bay.

We’re taking steps to protect you and your home during the COVID-19 outbreak

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Hayward, the Bay Area, and the state of California has impacted everyone. As of this blog being published, experts remain unsure of what path the outbreak will take, and local, county, and state emergency orders remain in place. At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we are taking precautionary safety measures to protect your home and business. In this article, we’ll review what COVID-19 is, how we’re doing our part to prevent its spread, and how we’re here for your 24/7 emergency cooling and plumbing needs.

What you should know about COVID-19

COVID-19, or “novel coronavirus,” is a respiratory virus that can be easily spread from person-to-person by inhaling microscopic water droplets expelled in a sneeze or cough from an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted by touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes. Due to its “novel” nature, no one has pre-existing immunity to COVID-19.

The virus has a prolonged incubation period of several days, where infected people can be contagious but not have flu-like symptoms. In fact, experts now believe up to 80% of those with COVID-19 either have light symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, in a wide variety of patients, COVID-19 can be life-threatening and require hospitalization. In some cases, it can be fatal.

There are two recommended ways we can all participate in slowing the spread of the disease and preventing our hospitals and medical personnel from being overwhelmed. The first is by taking precautionary measures to prevent its spread. This includes washing your hands regularly, sanitizing surfaces and objects such as your phone, and wearing a protective face covering when going into supermarkets. The second way, when possible, is staying home. While not everyone can stay home, reducing the people in public spaces and at job sites can slow the spread and—ultimately—help save lives.

As of April 6, many of the services we provide are exempt under the state’s list of essential services and service personnel. For further guidance and the latest up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, please refer to the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Call us for 24/7 service

With so many people working from home and sheltering-in-place, your home’s plumbing and cooling systems are needed more than ever. That’s why—for the duration of this crisis—we are offering 24/7 emergency plumbing, heating, and cooling services here in Hayward and the East Bay. If you need fast and reliable emergency service, call us. We’ll send one of our dedicated and experienced technicians out to your home as soon as possible.

Protecting you and your home

We understand that this is a scary time to have technicians and plumbers visit your home. However, we want to assure you that our technicians are taking all the necessary precautions for your safety. If you have any questions about our safety measures, please give us a call.

Thank you

In the coming weeks and months, the COVID-19 crisis will continue to have a profound and unprecedented impact on our community and its local businesses. We are proud to stand with the people of Hayward and the East Bay during these hard, difficult times. We also thank our first responders, healthcare professionals, and everyone else who is going above-and-beyond for our community at this time.

As always, thank you for your support of local businesses like ours. Like many other businesses in our community, we owe everything to you: our customers. We’re going to get through this—together. #HaywardStrong

Are tankless water heaters energy-efficient?

Whether you are building a new house or replacing a broken or outdated water heater in your current home, you may be considering installing a tankless water heater. This type of water heater doesn’t constantly maintain a large reservoir of water at a high temperature. Instead, a tankless water heater only switches on as necessary: whenever you turn on a hot water tap in your home. While these benefits are well-understood, many homeowners here in Hayward still have a big question: are tankless water heaters energy-efficient?

The short answer is yes. Demand-type systems use less energy (whether natural gas or electricity) than standard water heaters. However, as we’ll explore in this blog post, the exact extent of these savings is determined by your water usage, water heater placement, and several other individualized factors.

Are tankless water heaters an energy-efficient option for your home?

On-demand operation can lower energy usage

Even the most energy-efficient traditional water heater constantly uses energy to keep the water in the tank at the right temperature. Because a tankless water heater only operates when you need hot water, its overall energy consumption is generally less than that of a traditional water heater. Tankless water heaters may also last longer than their traditional counterparts because they don’t spend at much time operating every day for years on end. Whereas an older traditional water heater may use more energy to keep water hot as parts wear out, a tankless water heater may display energy-efficient performance for its entire lifespan.

Yes, tankless water heaters are energy-efficient and can save you money on your utility bills every month.

Yes, tankless water heaters are energy-efficient and can save you money on your utility bills every month.

High demand may require multiple water heaters

One of the advantages of a tankless water heater is that it doesn’t run out of hot water. Theoretically, it can keep heating water for your home as long as there is an open hot water tap somewhere initiating demand.

However, some tankless water heater varieties may struggle to heat water fast enough during times of high usage: for example, when the shower and dishwasher are running at the same time.

You may solve this issue by installing multiple tankless water heaters for your home and placing them close to showers or appliances. When calculating the potential energy savings for your home, it’s important to account for multiple tankless water heaters if you need them to meet your usage requirements.

Energy savings depend on numerous factors

While tankless water heaters are generally more energy-efficient than traditional models, it’s important to factor initial costs into your calculations. Many regular water heaters cost less to purchase and install than tankless water heaters.

Additionally, the energy savings of a tankless water heater may be greater in households that use less hot water. Households that use approximately 80 gallons of hot water daily may see lower energy savings that households that use around 40 gallons every day. The location of the equipment can make a difference too.

Placing a tankless water heater at every hot water outlet can significantly improve energy savings because the water doesn’t lose heat during a long journey between the heater and the faucet.

We can help you choose the right water heater

If you need more details on tankless water heater energy-efficiency and want to learn what options may be best for your home, contact ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. Our expert water heater technicians understand all the available options and can help you figure out which type of water heater will meet your needs and increase your home’s energy-efficiency.

Contact us to get an estimate on installing a new tankless water heater in your home.

Plumbing 101: 4 Common Reasons the Storm Drains Becomes Clogged

Your storm drains play a critical role in protecting your roof, your home, and your property. When it rains here in the Bay Area, your roof drains—also known as “gutters” or “downspouts”—safely carry the water off of the roof structure and down to the ground, where it goes into a storm drain that carries the water to the local sewer. This process prevents excess water from pooling on the roof, which can lead to a number of problems for your shingles, tile, and underlayment.

This roof's gutters are clogged with fallen leaves, which may prevent water from properly draining off the roof into storm drains.

This roof’s gutters are clogged with fallen leaves, which may prevent water from properly draining off the roof into storm drains.

However, this system does require regular upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning. If not regularly cleared out, downspouts can fill up with leaves, branches, and bird nests. This effectively forms a dam, preventing water from traveling down the spout. The result can be damage to your roof. If your storm drains are not cleaned, water will have nowhere to go once it gets to the ground level.

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, our plumbers specialize in indoor drain, sewer line, storm drain cleaning. If you have a blockage deep in your storm drain, let our team clean it out. Need storm drain cleaning in Hayward, San Jose, and other parts of the Bay Area? Contact our team today to have an experienced plumber come out to your home.

Read our other Plumbing 101 articles:


Here are the 4 reasons why your roof drains and storm drains may be blocked

1. Natural Debris


This residential storm drain is starting to become clogged with fallen leaves and other yard debris.

This residential storm drain is starting to become clogged with fallen leaves and other yard debris.

Storm drains can be clogged due to the buildup of leaves inside the drain pipe. This is particularly the case in autumn and spring. In addition, sometimes the roots of trees or shrubs head straight to the drains, resulting in a blocked drain.

This is commonly the case with willow trees, boxwood shrubs, oak trees, magnolia, gum trees, and palm trees. Here’s a guide to the best trees to plant around sewer lines and storm drains.

To reduce the risk of blockage of the drain due to the buildup of natural debris, you should keep the areas around the drain clear of all kinds of natural debris. If the leaves or roots get into the drains, it could prevent water from getting to the sewer, leading to a backup in your yard.

2. Broken Storm Pipe

Storm pipes can fracture due to general wear-and-tear. The roots growing inside the pipes can also fracture the pipes. Once it becomes fractured, the drain pipe is susceptible to blockages. The fractures are not easily visible. The professional plumbers from ABC will closely inspect the pipes for damage and then repair the fractured storm pipe.

3. Improper Installation

Improper installation of the storm pipe can also lead to drain blockages. This is usually the case when the pipes are installed as a DIY project. Improper installation will either result in fracture of the pipe or reduced water to flow from the pipe. That’s why it’s essential that you have a licensed plumber install drain pipes around and inside your home.

4. Heavy Rains

The storm drain can also become blocked due to heavy rains. Most of the household drain pipes are not manufactured to take the full impact of heavy rains and storms. This leads to overflow of the drain pipes that can buildup on your home’s roof. Since we live in an area where heavy rains are common, you should consider installing a larger drain pipe to weather the storm.

Blocked drain pipes can be a great inconvenience. What’s worse is that a blocked pipe can result in water accumulating on the roof of the house. Eventually, the accumulated water will drip down and leak from the ceiling inside the house. This can also do major damage to the foundation of the home, posing major risk to individuals.

Have ABC work with your storm drains

That’s why it’s essential that you have the storm drain cleaned regularly by an experienced plumber. If you want to avail the services of an emergency storm drain cleaning company in the Bay Area, call our team at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing.

Our plumbers use specialized tools to quickly remove all kinds of blockages from the outside drain pipes.

Here are the 5 best ways to conserve water in the home

As every homeowner here in the Bay Area now knows after years of drought and intense fire seasons, water is our most precious commodity. It can never be taken for granted. It’s the duty of every homeowner here in Hayward and beyond to take steps to make their home more water-efficient and conserve water. In this article, we’ll review 5 of the best ways you can cut down on your home’s water use.

Install a low-flow showerhead to conserve water while showering.

You can conserve water while showering by having our team install a low-flow showerhead.

#1. Install a low-flow showerhead and limit shower times

Most Americans use about 17 gallons of water when they shower. Here in California, that’s a lot, considering our climate and state of drought. By installing a low-flow showerhead, you can cut that number down to 10 gallons per-shower or even less. That’s 7 gallons of water saved with every shower—over the course of the year, a major improvement.

Of course, a low-flow showerhead will not have much of an impact if you and your family still continue taking 20-minute showers. Our recommendation is that you streamline your shower down to 5-7 minutes. This should give you sufficient time to get clean without wasting water and time. The shower is a place for deep shower thoughts—keeping close track of time, not so much! A shower timer or simple 5-minute hourglass can really help keep you moving.

#2. Upgrade to a dual-flush toilet

Older toilets used water without much thought for conservation. If your toilet predates the 1990s, chances are that it uses as much as 3.6 gallons per-flush! We recommend that you have the ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing team install a new dual-flush toilet in your home. Dual-flush toilets are a versatile, alternative option to low-flush toilets in that they have two separate flushes for different purposes. The smaller flush uses only about 1.5 gallons with every flush—less than half that of a standard toilet flush.

Thinking about switching out the toilets in your home? Give us a call. You’ll want a plumbing specialist to take measurements and ensure that your bathroom can fit the toilet—or toilets—you’re thinking about buying.

#3. Avoid automated watering

Yard irrigation makes our lives a lot easier, but it often results in habitual water waste. For example, very few homeowners bother to turn off their irrigation on days where it rains. In many cases, your trees, bushes, plants, and garden are actually getting more water, more frequently, than they need. By switching to watering by-hand with either a hose or a watering can, you’ll cut down on this waste. Of course, your automated irrigation is still nice to have for times when you’re away or at work.

You can reduce the overall watering you need to do by switching the trees, plants, and shrubs in your yard from thirsty imported species to drought-tolerant ones native to the climate of the Bay Area. This is a great change that yields long-term water-saving results for your home. It’s one of the best ways to conserve water for years to come.

#4. Capture and reuse cold water from the shower

Everyone does it: you turn on the shower, set it to hot, and then walk away for a minute while the cold water is flushed out and the hot water arrives. Meanwhile, you’re wasting gallons of otherwise good water. One option is to step into the shower while it’s still cold, but that’s rough to do in the winter. Instead, try this: get a large bucket and position it underneath the showerhead. As the water warms up, the bucket will fill with cold water. You can then move the bucket and take your shower. The next time you need to water indoor plants, clean your floors, wash your car, or fill pet water bowls, use the water from the bucket.

#5. Proactively deal with leaks and water waste

One final way to conserve water: fixing indoor and outdoor leaks. A leaking pipe might not seem like that big of deal, but the cumulative water wasted throughout the calendar year can be mind-boggling. For example, a faucet that drips at a rate of 20-times per-minute will waste 700 gallons of water every year. You can find even more ways to cut down on your water waste with this online calculator.

If you notice that you have a leak or drip in your home’s plumbing, bring in the plumbing professionals at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We’ll quickly make the fix, helping your home conserve water and avoid future water damage.

Here are the most expensive plumbing repairs and how to avoid them

As a homeowner, you already watch a significant portion of your take-home pay go toward maintaining your home and property. That’s just part of the cost of owning a home. However, what really keeps homeowners up at night is the thought of a major, urgent repair that costs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to address. While such scenarios are rare and may only be encountered by a homeowner once a decade, they do exist. In this article, we’ll review the most expensive plumbing repairs a homeowner can face and what steps you can take to avoid such problems in the first place.

For fast and reliable plumbing repair here in Hayward, Fremont, Union City, San Leandro, and beyond, call us at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. Our experienced and friendly plumbers are ready to help you address your home’s plumbing repair needs.

Hidden leaks

In a home, water damage is insidious. It destroys floors, weakens the home’s structure, and leads to the growth of mold and mildew, which can make everyone in the home sick. The most common cause of water damage in U.S. homes is from water leaks, which—in turn—are often the result of:

  • Leaking pipes
  • Leaking roofs
  • Frozen pipes

While we don’t often face the threat of frozen pipes here in the Bay Area, a leaking pipe or a leaking roof can be a major headache for a local homeowner. This is especially true when the leak is hidden behind a wall or underneath the floor. This can make finding—and dealing with—the leak difficult.

Addressing leaks and water damage

If you have reason to believe that you have a leak in your home—such as obvious water damage or falling water pressure—turn off the main water supply and call our team for plumbing repair. We’ll send out one of our experienced plumbers to inspect your home, identify the problem, and make the repair. Our plumbing team carries advanced leak detection equipment that helps us find leaks hidden in ceilings, under floors, or behind walls.

Preventing leaks

While not all leaks are preventable, you can take steps to reduce the risk of water damage to your home:

  • Protect your roof: Have your home’s roof inspected at least once per year, and address any of the roofer’s recommendations immediately.
  • Upgrade your pipes: If you own an older property with copper or galvanized steel water pipes, talk to our team about when you need to upgrade to new pipes.
  • Maintain your home: If you have a basement and a sump pump, periodically check to ensure that the pump is working properly.
An ABC plumber cleans out a home's sewer line as a means of preventing a sewer line clog and backup—one of the most expensive plumbing repairs a homeowner can face.

An ABC plumber cleans out a home’s sewer line as a means of preventing a sewer line clog and backup—one of the most expensive plumbing repairs a homeowner can face.

Sewer line issues

Your home relies on its sewer line to carry water and waste away from the home to the municipal sewer. Unfortunately, issues with this line are some of the most expensive for a homeowner to address. Here are two of the most common problems:

  • Sewer Line Clogs: A clogged sewer line will need to be cleared out, or the home runs the risk of a sewer backup where wastewater comes up through the drains and into the home. This can lead to serious water damage and the need for mold remediation.
  • Sewer Line Leaks: These leaks in the line can be caused by an aging and deteriorating line, shifting earth, or thirsty tree roots that have grown around the line. In many cases, a cracked sewer line requires the line to be dug up, which can escalate repair costs.

Addressing sewer line issues

Any issue with the sewer line—whether it’s a partial clog, a complete clog, or a leak—warrants turning off the water supply and calling us for plumbing service. Our plumber will start by running an endoscopic camera snake tool down your drain and into the line. This allows you and the plumber to visually identify the issue. If a clog is found, our plumber will diagnose what it is made of and select the best way to clear it.

To that end, our team uses high-powered water jets, advanced snake tools, and other professional equipment to clear most sewer line clogs without the need for digging up the line.

Preventing sewer line issues

Most sewer line clogs or leaks are preventable. Here are just a few ways you can protect your home:

  • Watch what you put down the sink: Avoid putting grease, oils, fats, eggshells, uncooked rice, and flour down your kitchen sink drain. Instead, dispose of these items in the trash. For grease and oil, we recommend pouring it out of the pan and into a glass jar while still hot and then disposing of that jar in the trash once the grease has cooled and solidified.
  • Move trees away from the line: Form a 10-15 foot perimeter around the sewer line as it runs under your yard to the municipal sewer. Inside this zone, have trees and bushes relocated and replanted in other parts of your yard. Talk to a tree specialist here in the Bay Area to assess which local species pose the greatest risk to your sewer line. Trees with fast-growing roots should be removed.
  • Schedule a sewer camera inspection: If you suspect a clog is forming deep in the line, a precautionary sewer camera inspection from our team is probably a good idea.

Water heater tank burst

Your water heater tank stores heated water under pressure. Most events of catastrophic water heater failure start when a combination of the following occurs:

  • The tank’s walls are weakened due to internal corrosion, and the tank is no longer capable of storing water under high pressure.
  • A malfunctioning pressure-relief valve can’t release excess pressure or heat building up inside of the tank.

What often follows is commonly known as a “water heater tank burst.” Essentially, the water heater reaches a breaking point and “pops” open, spilling out gallons of water into your home or garage. Most modern water heaters come equipped with an emergency valve that stops the flow of water to the heater in this event, but homeowners are still faced with thousands in expensive plumbing repairs.

Addressing water heater problems

Immediately turn off the water heater’s water supply valve to prevent more water from flooding your home or garage. Next, give us a call. Our plumber can ensure that the leak has been dealt with and provide you with the next steps for cleaning up any resulting water damage. We’ll also give you a quote for the removal of the burst water heater and the installation of a new unit.

Preventing a water heater tank burst

Not every water heater tank failure is inevitable. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this outcome:

  • Be proactive: If you notice exterior cracks in the tank shell, water pooling under the unit, or other obvious signs of trouble, turn off the water heater and call our team for service. Most water heater tank bursts are accompanied by early warnings such as these that give homeowners a narrow window in which they can avert disaster.
  • Care for your water heater: Every year, you should flush your water heater to remove built-up sediment. During this maintenance, check the anode rod and take note of the amount of corrosion: a completely corroded anode rod means that corrosion is likely being attracted to the tank walls. Also, check that the system’s emergency pressure-relief valve is working. This helps prevent the catastrophic build-up of excess pressure inside of the tank.
  • Replace your water heater: Most water heaters last about 10-15 years. If yours is nearing the end of that lifespan, talk to our plumber about when might be a good time to replace it. The upfront cost of replacing your water heater before a tank burst is very small compared to potential expensive plumbing repairs and cleaning up water damage later.

Avoid expensive plumbing repairs by calling our team

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we’re proud to be your friendly and experienced plumbing team here in Hayward and the Bay Area. If you need fast and reliable plumbing services, contact us today. We specialize in all types of plumbing repair work, and we back everything we do with our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Everything you need to know about sewer line clogs

Your sewer line carries wastewater away from the sinks, toilets, and showers of your home. It travels underneath your yard to the street, where it connects to the municipal sewer. Most homeowners don’t give their sewer line much thought: beyond the fact that the entire operation of waste disposal is a bit unsavory to think about, the sewer line also fulfills its important function without much issue.

However, when problems do occur, the results can be disastrous. A sewer line clog can lead to sewage and wastewater backing up into your home. Known as a sewer backup, this event is a homeowner’s worst nightmare.

In this article, we’ll provide a complete guide to sewer lines, the issues they can encounter, and how you can prevent a sewer backup in your own home.

We’re your sewer line experts

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, our team specializes in sewer line inspection and repair. Our team of plumbing professionals has the tools and expertise needed to quickly diagnose issues with the sewer line and then recommend the right fix. We also fix storm drain issues.

Since 1953, homeowners in Hayward and the Bay Area have trusted our team with all their home service needs, and we’re proud to continue that tradition of great service into the present day.

Need a sewer inspection or repair here in Hayward, San Leandro, Union City, or surrounding areas? Fill out the form to schedule service with our team.

Common causes of a sewer line clog

Tree Roots

Many sewer line clogs have their roots in, well, roots. The sewer line runs from your home to the street, often passing under a front or side yard. Any nearby trees, bushes, or shrubs are a potential danger to the line. Over time, their thirsty, moisture-seeking roots will burrow down to the line, where they either enter it through an existing crack or put enough pressure on the line’s exterior to crack it open.

As the roots attempt to take in more and more moisture, they eventually grow into the line, partially—and then fully—obstructing it. This leads to a sewer line blockage and the high risk of a sewer backup.

If you have trees in your front yard, you should be aware of the threat they may pose to your home's sewer line.

If you have trees in your front yard, you should be aware of the threat they may pose to your home’s sewer line.

What types of trees pose the biggest threat?

Any tree within 10 feet of the line is a potential threat. Some tree species have faster-growing roots than others, making them more dangerous to the sewer line than others:

Less Dangerous

These trees have slow-growing, less aggressive root structures, and can be planted 10 feet away from the sewer line.

  • Maple species
  • Dogwood species
  • Crabapple trees
  • Ginkgo trees
  • Smoke trees

More Dangerous

These trees have fast-growing, aggressive root structures, and should not be planted near sewer lines.

  • Ash species
  • Poplar species
  • Cottonwood species
  • Oak species
  • Sycamore species

How can tree root incursion be prevented?

  • Plant all new trees, bushes, and shrubs at least 10 feet away from the sewer line on all sides.
  • If you have existing trees near the sewer line, consider having them moved to another part of your yard as a preventative measure.
  • When planting a slow-growing tree, plan on replacing or moving the tree in the next 15-20 years.
  • If you are planting a fast-growing tree, plan on replacing or moving the tree in the next 8-10 years. Depending on the species, this is typically representative of how long it takes its roots to expand the distance to the sewer line.

Grease & Waste

Many homeowners don’t give much thought to how they use their garbage disposal, or what they put down it. However, just how you dispose of kitchen waste can have a big impact on your home’s sewer line.

In general, the most dangerous thing to put down the sink is anything that is a liquid while hot but solidifies upon cooling.

An ABC plumber cleans out a sewer line clog at a local home.Grease

Grease is the most famous example of this. The homeowner pours hot cooking grease down the drain. As the grease travels through pipes, it begins to cool. By the time it reaches the sewer line, it may be much cooler than it originally was, and begins to solidify with the temperature change. This partially solidified grease sticks to the interior of the line. Time after time, disposing of grease in this way adds to the building blockage in the line. Eventually, it’s enough for a clog to start to form.

Food Waste

It’s not just grease that’s a problem. Here is some food waste that you should never dispose of down the sink drain:

  • Coffee Grounds: Besides grease, coffee grounds are the number one cause of sewer line blockages. These grounds can become stuck in pipes when they adhere to other materials deep inside of the line.
  • Eggshells: As the shells fracture in the garbage disposal, tiny pieces of shell shrapnel travel down the lines and become stuck in the sewer line.
  • Oil & Butter: This is essentially the same story as grease: fats and oils can coat the inside of the line and congeal deep inside of it. While it is a kitchen staple, coconut oil is especially dangerous, since it solidifies at room temperature.
  • Rice & Pasta: Anything that physically expands upon continued contact with water is bad news once in your sewer line. A half-cup of uncooked rice can bloat to a sewer line-blocking mess once exposed to water.
  • Flour: When combined with water, most flours become sticky and adhesive. This is not something you want inside of your sewer line.

Bathroom Waste

Inorganic bathroom waste is a major cause of sewer line issues. Just because something can be flushed down the toilet doesn’t mean that it should be. Avoid putting non-biodegradable items down the toilet drain. A few common examples include human hair, sanitary products, plastics, baby wipes, or flushable wipes. That latter one is a common misunderstanding: despite what their marketing says, ‘flushable’ wipes are not actually flushable and can cause a clog.

Sagging Sewer Line

Your sewer line does not use electricity or gas to move wastewater from one place (your home) to another (the municipal sewer). Instead, it accomplishes this by using gravity. The sewer line is slightly sloped diagonally so that the end at your home is several inches higher than the end at the street. This helps facilitate the movement of water from one location to another. In most cases, this gradient is very gradual: about a one-fourth of an inch drop for every foot of pipe length.

The Sewer Line “Belly”

No matter how perfectly installed the sewer line was originally, there are some potential problems that can crop up as time goes by. First, the movement of soil around the line. Throughout the year, soil can shift and move due to changes in moisture and local topographic factors. As it does, the line moves, too. If a certain patch of soil sinks, the line also sinks. This can cause a “u” shape to start to form, disrupting the gravity-assisted flow of water out of the system.

This is often known as a sewer line “belly,” and it can cause several issues. First, it creates a place in the line where wastewater gets perpetually stuck and pools. This can lead to foul odors as not all the waste is being discharged from the line. Second, if the wastewater can no longer “climb” back up the other side of the “u,” it may eventually start to back up the line and back into the house.

Dealing with a sagging sewer line

Generally speaking, there are two ways to fix a sagging sewer line. The first is relatively self-explanatory: the plumber digs up the sewer line and fixes the sag, either by replacing that section of line or by restoring it to its original position. However, this requires digging a trench in your yard to get to the line, and may not be practical for every home. Plumbers have two other options in such cases:

  • Guidance Method: Using this method, the plumber pushes the old pipe out using the new pipes and compacts the soil around it as they go, maintaining the slope.
  • Sliplining: The plumber inserts a smaller sewer line into the current one, and then pulls away the old line. The only downside of this method is that the smaller diameter of the new sewer line may be easier to clog in the future.

Schedule a camera inspection

The best way to diagnose sewer line clogs, leaks, and other issues is by using a sewer line camera tool. Most plumbing professionals—including ours here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing—have specialized snake tools that allow us to feed a small camera down the drain and into the line. As the camera moves through the line, we can see any points of trouble and any partially formed clogs.

If you have reason to believe that your sewer line is experiencing issues, a sewer line inspection is the next step. Talk to your local plumbing professional about scheduling a camera inspection.

Warning signs of a sewer line blockage

There are many potential warning signs of a sewer line clog or leak. Here are the two that you need to be on the lookout for in your home:

Simultaneous clogging

When a single drain pipe in your home is clogged, you’ll notice that the sink is backing up, the toilet won’t flush, or the shower basin is starting to flood. This is a pretty regular occurrence, and—in most cases—the problem can be solved locally by running the garbage disposal, plunging the toilet, or cleaning out the shower drain.

However, if all the drains and toilets in your home are clogged at the same time, this is almost as sure a sign as any that something is wrong deep inside of the sewer line. You should immediately turn the water off and call a plumber for service.

Slow-moving drains

Not every sewer line clog starts as a complete and total blockage. In most cases, sewer line clogs are first noticed when they only partially block the line. You’ll start to see your drains draining more and more slowly as this happens.

Call ABC for help clearing a sewer line clog

The above are the most common reasons for a residential sewer line clog. You should contact the licensed and certified plumbers at ABC to come and diagnose the exact reason for a clog. After assessing the reason for, and the location of, the clog, our plumber will use professional tools to efficiently get your sewer system working again.

In case you reside in San Jose, Hayward, or the surrounding locations in much of the Bay Area, you should contact our team for expert help for sewer line clogs. Our professional plumbers will quickly diagnose the problem and resolve any issues with your home plumbing.