The Best (& Worst) Toilet Paper Alternatives for Your Plumbing

some toilet paper options cause major plumbing problems

Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, more of us have found ourselves in need of toilet paper than ever before. What was once a product that was taken for granted, toilet paper has become one of the most sought-after commodities. This is still true today, despite the supply leveling out in stores.

 If you’re worried about the next toilet paper shortage, or just want to make sure you’re prepared in case you “gotta go” and have no toilet paper to use, keep reading. Today we’ve listed the best (and worst) toilet paper alternatives for your Pasadena plumbing.

Worst Toilet Paper Alternatives for Your Plumbing

There’s a lot of debate as to whether popular toilet paper alternatives sold in stores are safe for plumbing systems in Pasadena, MD. However, it’s not likely many of them are good for your plumbing. This is especially true when you use them for a long time.

Let’s take a look at common toilet paper alternatives people like to use, but shouldn’t if they want to keep the plumber away.

1. Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are a popular choice among those with sensitive skin. This is because they do not cause any irritation or leave behind any lint. After all, they are used on baby bottoms! Even the wipes that are labeled for adults are similar to the ones used on babies.

That said, the 2019 Defining Flushability for Sewer Use Final Report claims that even wipes that are labeled as “flushable” do not break apart in sewer systems. This is because these products are made of woven cotton or synthetic fibers. In other words, they are considered cloth, not paper, and do not break down in Pasadena plumbing systems like toilet paper.

Lastly, The Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products does not recommend anyone flush wipes for any reason.

2. Sanitary Pads

Sanitary pads or napkins are very soft and super absorbent, making them seem like the perfect toilet paper alternative. Not to mention, if you use a sanitary pad to take care of business, you likely won’t have to use very many of them.

But when it comes to using these, you should definitely think twice. Because they are so thick and absorbent, they just don’t break down. This can lead to clogs in the toilet and surrounding pipes and end up costing you a lot of money to fix.

3. Napkins and Tissue

Of all the toilet paper alternatives, napkins and tissue are probably the best options. Most napkins and tissues have the same thickness as toilet paper. In other words, they could possibly dissolve once flushed. However, you just never know. In fact, while toilet paper is meant to dissolve in water after being used, tissue is not. It is instead meant to withstand you blowing your nose into it without dissolving right away.

Another reason tissue is not recommended as a toilet paper alternative is that it often has menthol or other minty fragrances in it to help with congestion. This can irritate your skin and cause a lot of irritation. If you’re really in need of something, and all you have on hand is a tissue, try your best to make sure it’s a fragrance-free type.

4. Paper Towels

One step up in terms of roughness is the paper towel. Sure, the word “paper” is in the name, making many think it’s okay to use it as a flushable toilet paper alternative. But the truth is, paper towels just don’t dissolve in water that quickly because of their built-in scrubbing ability. This means flushing paper towels down the toilet could lead to a major clog in the pipes and cause a major toilet backup.

5. Coffee Filters

One unusual suggestion as a viable toilet paper alternative is coffee filters. They seem harmless enough. After all, they are relatively thin and soft. However, the entire reason you use coffee filters is to come into contact with wetness and not dissolve or break down. So, unless you are brewing coffee over your toilet bowl, forget the idea that coffee filters can be used as a toilet paper alternative that can be flushed without worry.

Best Toilet Paper Alternatives for Your Pasadena Plumbing

Toilet paper is always going to be the best thing to use for your plumbing system. It tends to dissolve more quickly than any alternatives and does not cause problems in sewer systems.

While there are not many alternatives to using toilet paper, there are some tips and tricks you can use to test a possible alternative when you’re in a pinch:

  • Place four sheets of the toilet paper alternative in a plastic container with a lid
  • Fill the container a little over halfway with water
  • Shake the container for about 10 seconds and wait for the water to settle

If the toilet paper alternative begins to dissolve, it is safe to flush down your toilet.

Other toilet paper alternatives include:

1. Toilet Seat Covers

Another option to think about are toilet seat covers. Designed to be flushed down the toilet, these thin sheets of paper can serve as a toilet paper alternative in a pinch. That said, it’s important you make sure they are approved for use with septic and traditional tanks and that you don’t try to flush too many at once.

2. Bidet

Though not a flushable product, it’s good to know that a bidet is a handy plumbing fixture that can serve as the perfect alternative to toilet paper whether you’re short on supply or not.

Used primarily around the world for keeping clean after using the restroom, the bidet is still not super popular in the United States yet – though it should be. They spray a targeted stream of water in the exact right spot every time for a fresh and clean feeling. And the best part is, you never have to worry about handling any plumbing issues when you use one.

Final Thoughts

Are you in need of an emergency toilet fix in your Pasadena home? Then contact us today and see how we can help unclog your plumbing after using a toilet paper alternative that isn’t recommended.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, Inc., we have a team of licensed plumbers that care about our customers and are on hand to help you with all your plumbing needs. In fact, we offer free estimates for every plumbing project, from emergencies to bathroom renovations and everything in between.

So, if you’re looking for the most qualified and experienced plumber in Pasadena, MD, look no further and rest easy that whatever you need handled will be taken care of in a timely, affordable, and friendly way.

9 Most Common Plumbing Problems (And How to Fix Them)

how to fix common plumbing problems in Pasadena rental units

The average family wastes 180 gallons of water per week — or 9,400 gallons per year — thanks to household leaks. This is not only bad for your bank account, but for the environment as well. Not to mention, leaky faucets, clogged drains, and not getting hot water during your shower is a pain.

The problem is that most plumbing problems in your Pasadena home will go unnoticed for a long time. Then suddenly, when the problem becomes big, you’re hit with a major repair and a major bill.

Luckily, many household plumbing issues can be detected and resolved early. If you want to avoid water damage, huge contractor invoices, and a lot of wasted time, keep reading. We’ve rounded up the top plumbing problems you’re likely to run into and tips on how to fix them.

Top Plumbing Problems in Pasadena, MD

1. Leaky Faucets

The drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet is annoying enough for anyone to go crazy after a short while. Plus, if you let it go long enough, you’ll end up wasting thousands of gallons of water and have to endure an increasingly high water bill.

Luckily, you can usually attribute a leaky faucet to one of these things:

  • Worn Out O-Ring: the small rubber ring that goes into the stem screw of your faucet and holds the handle in place is an o-ring. This piece of rubber gets worn over time as you push and pull the handle of the faucet. This causes a leak at the base of the handle.
  • Aerator: the mesh filter at the end of your faucet’s spigot is the aerator. As minerals deposit and clog the aerator you begin to lose water pressure.
  • Bad Valve Seat and/or Washer: between the faucet and the spout is a valve seat and washer holding into its place. These connections wear out over time or become loose letting water leak through. Another common problem is an ill-fitting washer that’s not the right size.

You can easily fix all three of these leaky faucet culprits by replacing the worn-out parts on your own before the leak becomes bigger.

2. Leaky Pipes

Much like leaky faucets, leaky pipes waste a lot of water. But more than that, if they go undetected, they can cause a lot of water damage depending on where they’re at.

Most leaky pipe problems come from pipes that are made from copper. Over time, the copper pipes expand and contract when the temperatures change from hot to cold and vice versa. If they are not prepared properly for the upcoming season changes, you could end up with corroded pipes that begin to leak.

In addition, excessive water pressure, clogging, and cracked seals can create problems in even the sturdiest of pipes.

The best way to solve these problems is through prevention. For example, wrap your exterior pipes during the winter, allow the cold water to drip from the faucet that receives water from exposed pipes, and keep your thermostat at the same temperature both day and night.

3. Worn Out Hose Bibb

Your hose is not meant to last forever, especially if you live in an area that has extreme weather conditions. Over time, the hose bibb will wear out and begin to crack. This leaves your hose silently dripping tons of water all over the place. And the worst part is, you may not even notice it because the last thing you’re doing mid-winter is washing your car, watering your plants, or even checking your hose.

The best way to prevent having to change the hose bibb constantly is to invest in a heavy-duty weather-resistant brand that will withstand the changing temps.

4. Toilet Leaks

A lot of time when your toilet is leaking, it’s doing it on the inside, and you don’t see the water all over the floor. That’s why you must make sure your toilet isn’t constantly running.

The most common reason your toilet is leaking is that the rubber flapper is losing its shape and is not sitting flush on the bottom. But don’t worry, this is an easy fix and can be done yourself. Not sure you have a leak? Drop some food coloring into the tank and see if there’s any water leaking into the bowl.

5. Clogged Drains and Toilets

Whether it’s the sink or the tub, there’s nothing worse than watching water backing up as you try to empty either. Worse yet, watching the toilet overflow onto your floor is something all people have experienced at one point or another, and dread ever see it happening again.

Small items can easily find their way into drains and down the toilet. In the shower or tub, hair is often the problem causing a drain to move slower than normal or not at all. When solid items get into the drains, water can’t flow through and down the pipes.

Here are the best ways to help unclog a drain:

  • Use a plunger (in the sink or the toilet) to push the item through
  • Add some chemical drain cleaners to dislodge or even dissolve blockages

If neither of these works, it’s time to call a reliable plumber in Pasadena to come help. It’s also a good idea to call a professional when the same drain continues to be a problem, or when you find yourself using a lot of chemical drain cleaners. Drain cleaners can damage pipes over time leaving you with more plumbing issues.

6. Jammed Garbage Disposal

Most homes have a garbage disposal under the kitchen sink between the sink’s drain and trap. However, they are often misused and get jammed. For example, not running water while using it, dropping silverware inside, or even cramming large amounts of food down the drain can cause the disposal to jam and even clog.

To fix this problem yourself, start by clicking the small reset button on the bottom of the unit. If that doesn’t work, try to free the motor that’s jammed by using the key that came with it or a ¼-inch Allen wrench.

7. Low Water Pressure

Having low water pressure while you’re showering or trying to wash dishes is one of the most common plumbing problems.

Although sometimes a new shower head or faucet can fix the issue right away, that’s not always the case. Instead, the problem is likely at the valve or in the pipes. In fact, many times low water pressure is a result of pipes that are broken, worn out, or corroded. This is often seen in older homes.

If the pressure problem is in the shower, it might also be because of a buildup of sediment or minerals on the aerator. Soaking the aerator or showerhead itself in vinegar will remove the debris.

8. Water Heater Issues

When you have a water heater plumbing problem, it’s usually easy to diagnose. Perhaps not easy to fix, but easy to diagnose.

If your water heater is on the fritz, you might see things like:

  • Dripping water
  • Puddles of water
  • Discolored water
  • Noises coming from the water heater

Mineral deposits, leaks, and sediment buildup are all reasons your water heater may stop working. You can troubleshoot by checking the pilot light or temperature settings. You can also flush the water heater to get rid of any buildup that may be causing the plumbing problem. If you see a leak on the floor, that’s a sign to call a professional Pasadena plumber to come and replace the tank entirely.

9. A Break in the Water Line

If your water line breaks you could end up with a lot of foundational problems that could ruin you financially. All it takes is one pinhole-sized crack for an entire pipe to split.

These are some of the things that can cause a water line to break:

  • Extreme weather conditions that shift the soil and break the lines
  • Wear and tear – materials like PVC, Pex, copper, steel, and even iron expire and need routine replacement
  • Rodents such as mice and squirrels seeking water in the ground can eat into the lines

For guidance on how to repair a water line, check out this detailed tutorial. If you don’t feel comfortable with this DIY method, contact your local Pasadena plumber and see how they can inspect and repair your water lines.

Final Thoughts

Are you in need of an experienced Pasadena, MD plumber? Then contact us today and see how we can help you with preventative and emergency plumbing services.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, Inc., we have over 30 years of full-service plumbing experience and are proud to say that we are the area’s leading plumbing company. From water and service line repairs, water leaks and plumbing to installations, repairs and new constructions, we’ve got all your plumbing needs covered. We even offer free estimates on all plumbing projects!

The Truth About Backflow Testing and Why It’s Absolutely Necessary

plumber in pasadena backflow testing

If you live or own a property in Pasadena, Maryland, then you might want to get your backflow tested if you haven’t already. If you value both your health and your property, backflow testing is absolutely necessary.

We are fortunate to have access to drinking water right from the faucets in our homes. However, with this convenience comes the responsibility to make sure the water coming from those faucets is clean and contaminate-free.

The best way to do this is by getting a backflow test done. By the end of this article, you will be much more knowledgeable about backflow testing in Pasadena, Maryland, and how you can schedule your test today.

What Is Backflow Testing?

Let’s start with the basics and cover what exactly backflow testing is.

A backflow test examines your plumbing system to make sure that water is flowing in only one direction and the water coming from your faucets is clean.

When there are backflow issues, clean water mixes with dirty water and becomes contaminated. This contaminated water then comes out of the faucets in your home and into your drinking glasses.

What Causes Backflow?

Two things cause backflow in your plumbing system: back-siphonage and backpressure.

Back Siphonage

Back siphonage happens when there is a drop in the water pressure, which causes the water to change direction. So, the dirty water is sucked backward and mixed with the clean drinking water, contaminating it with harmful bacteria and chemicals.

The most common instance of back siphonage in a residential home is from a garden house. When there’s a drop in pressure, it could cause a vacuum effect and suck the dirty water from the hose back to the water supply.

Backpressure

The second cause of backflow is backpressure. This is caused by an increase in the water pressure. The pressure from the water supply is higher than the pressure of the water source. Therefore, the dirty water is sent back to the water source.

For example, a clogged pipe can cause backpressure backflow. Since the water cannot move past the blockage, it is forced back to the source from where it came.

Is Backflow Testing Necessary?

Yes, backflow testing is absolutely necessary!

According to the CDC, 7.2 million Americans are diagnosed with a disease spread by water every year. This can be prevented if more people had backflow testing done. When a water supply is contaminated, diseases such as E.coli, Shigella, Giardia, and more could be present.

Along with dangerous diseases, you could also experience heavy metal contamination in your water if backflow is present. Many commercial spaces such as restaurants are at risk for metal contamination.

One reason for this is carbonated liquids deteriorating copper pipes and having copper contaminate the water. This is typically caused by soda fountain machines.

Another reason to get backflow testing in Pasadena, Maryland is to check for chemical contamination. Fertilizers, pesticides, and more can be present in your drinking water, especially if you live near farms, orchards, vineyards, or gardeners.

Having your backflow tested isn’t only essential for your plumbing system but for your health as well. This is the only way to ensure you’re drinking the clean water you want and deserve.

How Often Is Backflow Testing Required?

You should have your backflow tested at least once a year. While many people have a backflow preventer, they may be under the impression that they don’t need to have it checked this often. As plumbing experts, we’re here to tell you that you absolutely should!

Every five years, the system should be rebuilt and a new preventer installed to ensure you and your family are drinking clean water in your home.

Who Can Perform a Backflow Test?

In Pasadena, Maryland, you must have a certified plumber conduct a backflow test on your property. These plumbers go through training and are licensed to carry out this type of test. We do not recommend that you do a backflow test yourself.

If there is something wrong with your system, they have the resources and knowledge to fix it as quickly and effectively as possible.

How Is Backflow Testing Done?

The backflow test checks for two things. The first is if the water is contaminated. The second is the cause of the contamination.

To do this, a certified plumber will turn off the water in your home before conducting the test. They will use a backflow testing device and close the valves or gates to gauge the water movement.

As a homeowner, you don’t have to worry about doing anything. Simply let everyone in the house know that the water will be off for a little while and wait until the plumber gives you their analysis.

How Long Does Backflow Testing Take?

Surprisingly, the length of the actual test is only about 20 to 30 minutes long. It does take the plumber some more time to actually set up the test and get it ready, though.

If there are problems found with the water, then the plumber will have to spend more time identifying the problem and fixing it.

In just a few minutes, you’ll know whether or not the water your drinking water is safe or whether it’s harmful to your health. Isn’t that incredible?

Schedule Your Backflow Test in Pasadena, Maryland

Have you had your annual backflow test done yet?

Chesapeake Plumbing Inc. is the area’s leading plumbing service, and we are ready to test your system for backflow. With a team of licensed plumbers, we care about our customers, from homeowners to contractors, we’re here to help you with all your plumbing needs.

We even offer free estimates for any plumbing project you’re thinking of doing!

Contact us today to schedule your backflow test and make sure the water that you and your loved ones are drinking is clean. The peace of mind you’ll have is priceless!

How to Handle a Plumbing Emergency

An overflowing toilet, a burst pipe or a malfunctioning faucet is a plumbing emergency that requires your immediate attention. What do you do? First of all, don’t panic and follow these steps recommended by the specialists from Chesapeake Plumbing.

Shut off the water. If you can, shut off the water supply to the pipe that’s causing an issue, but if you don’t know your way around your plumbing system, just turn the main water shutoff valve. It’s typically located in the basement or outside your house. It’s a good idea to get familiar with the plumbing before the emergency occurs. Label the pipes and valves so that they can be easily identified.

Contain the damage. Once there’s no more water contributing to the flood, attempt to contain the disaster area. Prevent the water pooling on the floor from spreading any further by piling towels, blankets, scooping it out or directing to the drains.

Take preventive measures. If a plumber finds that an old pipe burst due to age, rust and corrosion, it can be a sign of future trouble. It might not be long until other pipes fail in a similar way. Talk to the plumber to find out how serious the problem is and what can be done to prevent it from reoccurring.

Different Types of Water Heaters – Maryland Water Heater Services

faucetMany of us are used to having hot water at our disposal and don’t really consider it a luxury. We don’t have to rely on anyone for the hot water supply: we conjure it ourselves with the help of water heaters! And with heating technologies constantly evolving, we now have quite a selection of water heating methods to choose from.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, we know from extensive experience that the most common variety of water heaters is the storage tank water heater. It heats cold water and stores it in a big tank to have it ready whenever you turn on the faucet. It is extremely popular and has many benefits:

–          This technology has been around for years and has proven effective in keeping up with household’s hot water demand.

–          Tank water heaters are much cheaper than their tankless counterparts. This includes low replacement and installation costs.

–          When your water heater’s capacity matches your household size and hot water needs, you shouldn’t experience any problems with hot water supply.

If you have a smaller family and/or travel frequently, consider that:

–          The general concept of applying energy to heat the water when it’s not being used is not the most eco-friendly way. However, many modern tank water heaters now qualify for Energy Star certification, which makes them more energy efficient.

The second type of water heaters is a tankless water heater, also called “instant” or “on-demand” water heater. Just like its name suggests, it heats water only when you need it thus eliminating stand-by heat loss and associated high energy use. However, don’t be misled by the word “instant:” you will still have to wait till hot water travels through the piping into your faucet. Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient, however, as with all heaters, they do have their limitations. On average, tankless water heater runs 5 gallons of water per minute (5 GPM), while most homes have a demand of 6 to 12 GPM.  Therefore, some installations may require additional modifications.

Your choice of water heater will largely depend on your household size and water use habits. If you do a lot of laundry, prefer longer showers and nice water pressure, then storage tank water heater is the way to go. If you are concerned about environment and energy use, you can opt in for a tankless heater.

We have performed hundreds of Maryland water heater installations, and will be happy to help you choose the system that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Sewer Line Backups

root

Spring/Summer Tip
Sewer line backups are common this time of year due to summer rainwater entering sewer pipes via cracks. New tree root growth from the spring can also cause sewer backup issues as roots are drawn toward the sewer line as a source of nutrition. Have Chesapeake Plumbing Inc. inspect your sewer lines to let you know if you are susceptible to a sewer line backup problem or if damage has already occurred. Give us a call today 410-437-3888

How to Lower Your Water Bills and Reduce Water Use in Your Home

dripping faucet

We are so used to readily available water at consistent pressure and desired temperature – only travelling abroad makes us realize that water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world. If you are like most Americans, your household probably uses more water than you need.

Fortunately, at Chesapeake Plumbing Inc., we know a few steps you can take to avoid wasting water. And if helping the environment is not motivating enough, think about how much you could save on water bills.

Reduce the water flow in your faucets

It’s likely your faucets operate at a higher rate of flow than necessary. To reduce the flow, install an aerator on the end of your faucet (it might have come with the faucet, so check first). This small and inexpensive addition can help you preserve as much as 1,500 gallons of water a month without affecting the water pressure. A low-flow, water-saving showerhead will do the same for your shower.

Update your toilet

If you are at the point when it’s time to remodel your bathroom, we suggest replacing your current toilet with a low-flow option. In a household that doesn’t conserve water a toilet can use as much as 20 gallons of water per person per day. Different low-flow models have different technology to use water more efficiently, such as the Dual Flush technology.

If you are not ready to replace your toilet just yet, there are still a few things you can do to make it perform better:

–    Flapper tends to deteriorate over time, so replace it regularly

–    Install an adjustable flapper to control the flush volume

Check your plumbing for leaks

A single dripping faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. If you have leaky pipes that drip so much that you have to empty the containers several times a day – we could be talking hundreds of gallons!

If you discover a leak, call us as soon as possible. The sooner it’s fixed, the sooner you can start saving and potentially prevent a mold situation that can be very costly.

Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget About the Sink.

sink drain

Think twice before using heavy-duty drain cleaners. Every certified and licenses Maryland plumber will tell you that while these chemically-loaded cleaners will help dissolve the clog, they might also corrode your pipes, significantly reducing their lifespan. Consult with your plumber, as he or she might find a less invasive and more eco-friendly drain cleaning solution.

Bonus tip: know your drain’s enemies! Different sinks in your house are subject to different conditions:

  • Kitchen sink drains often get clogged due to food remains and grease accumulation. To keep the drain healthy, use a fine-mesh strainer to keep even the smallest particles out and never empty cooking grease into the sink. Instead, pour it into a container and throw away with other trash.
  • Bathroom sink and shower drains can get clogged with hair and bathing products, especially oil-based ones. Remove the drain stoppers and clean them on a weekly basis to reduce the chance of clogging.
  • A utility sink is often used to help with very dirty projects, such as cleaning a paint brush, washing off boots after a long hike, etc. Be careful with large debris that can end up in the drain – always use a strainer.

Does it seem like a lot to do? We know your spring cleaning list of chores is already long, but keeping sink drains clean and clog-free is very important. If you need a hand, our Annapolis plumbers will be happy to take care of plumbing inspection and cleaning for you. Just give us a call at 410.437.3888.

Frozen Pipes

If your pipes freeze, open the cold water faucet nearest to the frozen pipe to relieve pressure.

Frozen pipe
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