Key Information About Tree Root Intrusion and Your Pipes

Sewage and water pipes run under the soil of your yard, as do tree roots. When roots and pipes collide, the pipes are usually the ones to give way. Indeed, tree root intrusion can cause major plumbing issues, which include a sewer line clog and sewage backup into your home. Find out everything you need to know about tree root intrusion.

Cause of Tree Root Intrusion

Obviously tree roots cause intrusion, and they do so because the natural instinct for any living thing is to survive. They’re usually seeking out water and nutrients. Your plumbing supplies both the water and the nutrients of the wastewater coming from your sinks and toilets.

Tree roots can crush plumbing pipes. However, you’re more likely to have a problem with the roots sending offshoots into the pipes themselves. They worm their way into cracks or loose joints in damaged plumbing. As they grow, they create an obstruction in your pipes.

Older homes are more susceptible to tree root intrusion. One reason is that they’re more likely to have plumbing made of clay tile, cast iron, or asphalt composite, none of which are as airtight as modern plumbing materials. The roots are also more likely to intrude on pipes installed within the top 24 inches of soil.

Most Aggressive Trees for Root Intrusion

While all tree roots have the ability to damage pipes and sewer lines, some species are more aggressive than others. These species include the following:

  • Ash
  • Sweetgum
  • Poplar and cottonwood
  • Oak
  • Locus
  • Willow
  • Basswood
  • Tulip tree
  • Sycamore
  • Some maples and boxelders

Your best bet is to avoid planting these trees near your sewer system. However, if they already exist in your yard, watch for signs that they’re invading your pipes.

Detection of Tree Root Intrusion

Your first step in detecting tree root intrusion is to pay attention to your plumbing. A common sign that roots have invaded your pipes is a gurgling noise, which is the water trying to flow past the roots. Another sign is slow-moving drains.

If you suspect you have tree root intrusion, consider calling professional plumbers for help. They’ll likely perform a camera inspection. They’ll thread a camera lens attached to optic cables through the sewer cleanout. As the camera moves through the pipe, they’ll watch the monitor for signs of tree roots or other obstructions.

Home Treatment of Tree Root Intrusion

If the problem of your tree root intrusion is in the beginning stages, you might try to treat it yourself. Generally, the home remedy is to send a chemical root killer down your toilet on a timed basis. The chemical kills the roots that come into contact with your pipelines. Be aware that some products can be corrosive to your pipes.

You could also try flushing rock salt down the toilet to kill the roots. Use the road salt. Flush it down the toilet once every month or two. That method works best in the initial stages of intrusion. Note that the rock salt will only kill the roots. It does not remove them from the pipe. If you think you already have some obstruction, call Moon Valley Plumbing to have the pipe hydro jetted.

Professional Treatment of Root Intrusion

Chemicals and even salt can be harmful to your existing landscape. So, if you suspect you have tree root intrusion, a good idea is to call for a camera inspection.

Once the plumbers have verified you have root intrusion in your pipes, they might make different suggestions. One recommendation is to use an auger to bore through the roots. If your root ball is too large for an auger, Moon Valley Plumbing can use the hydro jetter to cut out the roots with high-pressure water. This process also flushes the roots out of your pipe into the city mainline. If the pipe is crushed or damaged, though, they may recommend replacement of the existing pipe.

Watch for the signs of tree root intrusion, and have the issue solved before it becomes too costly. Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter can help you with any of your plumbing issues.

4 Types Of Plumbing Smells You May Encounter

As you may know, plumbing work often involves solving clogs, smelly drains, and similar nuisance issues for homeowners. Keeping your drains clear and fresh isn’t always as simple as you’d like. Here are some types of plumbing smells that could arise from a variety of sources in your home plumbing system.

1. Strange-Smelling Water

A fishy, musty, sulfuric, or rotten-egg flavor or smell to your water can be very alarming. Water smells can come from elements in your water, such as contaminants, naturally occurring minerals, metals from your pipes, or (if you live in the city) chemical treatments.

If you notice your water has a flavor or smell that’s not normal, you should get it tested right way before you drink any more of it. Other signs that your previously clean water could be contaminated include:

  • More cloudiness than usual
  • Sediments such as black specks in the water
  • A different coloration, such as greenish or yellowish water

Some water contaminants are more dangerous than others, so be sure not to drink any water that could potentially include unknown contaminants. Moon Valley Plumbing can come out and do a test on your water’s hardness and suggest different filtration systems to help with this problem.

2. Sulfuric-Smelling Drains

Does the drain smell like sulfur or sewage? In that case, you could have a problem with a P-trap or a plumbing vent. If it just smells like the pipes haven’t been cleaned recently, sending some baking soda and vinegar down the drain might help.  If that does not clear up your problem, have one of our friendly plumbers come out and show you how to treat your drains with Total C.

If your drains start to smell and to back up, you may have a sewer line or septic issue behind it. Or, if the problem is limited to one drain, it could be a more localized drain clog.

3. Sewage Smells Outside

If you have a septic system, this can be an especially expensive problem. Sewage smells outside your home may mean that something is wrong with the wastewater system. As a homeowner, you are responsible for the sewer line from your house to where it ties into the city line. Call Moon Valley Plumbing to help determine if there is a problem on your side or the city side of the line. We can help walk you through the process.

With a septic system, the smell could come from the septic tank or the leach field or anywhere in between and could indicate a simple pipe leak or a complete leach field failure. In other words, if you smell something like sewage outside your house, you need to call a septic or sewer line expert right away.

4. Smelly Hot Water Heater

If you notice an odd sulfur-like smell during water heater maintenance, you’ll likely realize that the issue is localized to the heater and doesn’t come from the water supply. But if you notice the odd smell while running your water faucet, this may not be as obvious.

If you do call Moon Valley Plumbing to assess water that smells like rotten eggs when you run your faucet, he or she may discover that the water heater is the source of the smell. This can be due to a reaction that takes place when a specific type of water with odor-causing bacteria sits in the tank with a specific type of metal (typically the type found in the anode rod) nearby.

Your plumber can also replace the anode rod with a different type of anode rod that contains different metals and won’t react with the bacteria.

Plumbing smells can be discouraging, alarming, and sometimes even a sign of hazardous conditions. So if you notice any odd smells in the air around your plumbing, don’t wait. Call a friendly local plumber such as Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter. We provide a full range of plumbing services, and we can help you get to the bottom of the odd smells in your pipes or drains.

How to Prevent Holiday-Time Plumbing Problems

How can you avoid plumbing problems over the holidays? Between the houseful of guests you’re about to host and the long list of gifts you have to buy, you have enough to do. Take a look at the easiest ways to prevent holiday-time plumbing issues before they start.

Schedule a Drain Cleaning Service

Are your drains slow or sluggish? What may seem like a minor backup right now can turn into a major problem when you have a full house for the holidays.

Don’t wait until the kitchen sink, bathtub, or other plumbing fixture is completely clogged before you call a plumber. Like everyone else, plumbers get busy during the holidays — especially if the plumbing company gives employees time off for Christmas or New Year’s. Before the holidays get into full swing (and before overnight guests arrive), schedule a drain cleaning.

Unlike chemical cleaners and manual DIY methods, a professional drain cleaning clears the backup efficiently, effectively, and without a risk to your safety. The plumber may need to inspect the drain to find the source of the clog or slowdown. After they determine the problem, the professional can use a water jetter (water under high pressure) or other equipment to break up the clog and clean the pipes.

Not only will this service provide you with peace of mind, but it will also prevent serious problems from starting over the busy holiday period.

Remove Non-Flushable Items

Do you keep baby wipes, makeup wipes, thick napkins, or paper towels in your bathroom? While you know that these items can’t go into the toilet, your holiday guests may not. Remove the temptation to flush a toilet-clogging wipe and put these items away.

Instead of rolls of paper towels or disposable napkins, replace these clog causers with reusable hand towels or holiday-themed washcloths.

Watch Younger Guests

If your holiday guest list includes younger family members, make sure an adult supervises appropriate plumbing use. If needed, remind children of the bathroom and kitchen rules. These should include what not to flush (cloths, paper towels, cotton balls, and other similar items) and what not to put down the sink’s drain (whole foods, anything sticky, candy, toys, or anything else that could cause a clog).

Ask your guests with young children to watch their tots around the plumbing. Proper supervision is a serious safety issue — for both the children and your plumbing. With an adult nearby, children are less likely to put toys down the drain, overflow the toilet with an entire roll of paper, or cause other unnecessary or accidental issues.

Clean Up Carefully

You can easily forget what goes down the kitchen sink drain and what doesn’t. If you’re in the midst of a holiday food prep rush, take time, slow down, and think about what you put down the drain as you cook.

Anything large, sticky, or sharp should go in the trash — not in your drain or down the garbage disposal. Along with these types of drain-clogging items, oils, fats, and greases need to go into the garbage can as well. If the oil or grease is too hot to throw away, place it in a heat-safe glass jar until it cools completely.

If you do forget to clean up your meal prep carefully, or an unintended item slips down the drain, don’t attempt to repair the resulting clog yourself. A professional plumber can remove the clog and get you cooking again in less time than it would take you to google the answer, buy the necessary equipment, and try to figure out your home’s plumbing system.

Do you need preventative or other plumbing services? Contact Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter for more information.

What You Need To Know About Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be a major annoyance. Often, the drop in pressure goes unnoticed at first because it lessens gradually. One day, you can take a satisfying but short 10-minute shower, and a month later, it takes twice as much time to rinse away the soap. Fortunately, most water pressure issues are quick to fix once you determine the cause.

Tap Specifics

A drop in water pressure can affect the entire house, or you may only have issues with a single appliance or room.

Whole House

When you experience a loss of pressure in the whole home the issue is either going to be with the main water supply or it will be located where the water actually enters the home. If you are on municipal water, check with the water company to see if there are any known issues that could affect pressure in your area. If the problem is with the water company, you can install a pressure booster to mitigate the problem.

Sometimes the cause is at the point of entry for the water. A failed regulator, a leak, or an obstruction in the water main may result in lower pressure from every tap.

Galvanized Pipes or Fittings

Old galvanized pipes or fitting can also be the cause of a whole house low pressure. If you see a bit of red in your water when you first turn it on, you most likely have rust somewhere in your system.

Single Room or Appliance

When a single tap or appliance is affected, the problem is often caused by hard water. For example, if only your hot water comes out with low pressure, sediment in the hot water heater could be affecting the pressure. This could also be the case if only the bathroom sink tap is affected.

If low pressure is only affecting a single room or zone, such as only the second floor taps or the master bathroom taps, the issue is likely to be a faulty valve.

Valve Issues

Often, a pressure issue can be fixed quickly simply by verifying that the valves that control the water supply are open and operating properly.

Main Valve

A broken valve or a valve that isn’t fully open can affect pressure. The main valve into the home affects the pressure in all of the taps. You can typically find the valve on the street side of your home where the water main enters. It may be in the basement, behind a toilet, or in a utility room. Turn on a nearby tap and then shut off the valve to verify that the water flow stops and the valve is working correctly.

Emergency Shut-Off Valves

Zone or room valves are typically located beneath a sink or behind the toilet. Simply verify that the valve is opening and closing correctly by first opening a tap in the room and then monitoring the water flow as you open and close the zone valve.

If the valve has an issue, a simple replacement is all you need.

Pressure Testing

The only way to verify that there really has been a drop in water pressure is to test the pressure as water comes out of your pipes.


You need a pressure testing gauge, available from hardware stores, to test water pressure. The method is simple — turn off all the water in the home and attach the gauge to a single tap. Turn on the tap and note the pressure reading on the gauge. If the pressure is between 50 and 75 PSI, then your water pressure is well within the normal range.

If the problem is a whole house issue, test a few different taps so you can rule out tap-specific problems.

If you are experiencing low water pressure in your home, it can often be the sign of larger problems beginning to develop. Call Moon Valley Plumbing, and we will get an experienced plumbing expert to help you resolve your problem.

Quick Bathroom Plumbing Upgrades to Add Efficiency and Luxury

Whether you want to create a luxury bathroom, increase eco-friendliness, or simply protect your plumbing system from common ailments, here are some quick and easy upgrades you or your plumber can perform to give your bathroom an edge. Most are quick and easy jobs for a plumber, but one or two are DIY-friendly as well.

Read more

4 Symptoms of Trouble With Your Water Heater

Your family depends on the water heater to provide everything from hot showers to clean dishes. So your best defense against any failure of the water heater is to be vigilant for symptoms of an ailment.

What are the most common water heater ailments? Here are four to keep an eye out for without even looking at the unit itself. Read more

3 Habits That Ruin Your Drains

A good amount of debris and residue is common in your drains and plumbing lines because your drains move water and waste out of the home. Unfortunately, even a small amount of residue can lead to big problems for your home and finances, including corroded pipes, overwhelming water leaks, and extensive water damage.

Dirty drains can also affect your health. If drains and underlying pipes start to corrode and rust, you will likely experience leaks and possible mold growth. Exposure to mold can lead to respiratory problems, skin rashes, and allergy symptoms.

In addition, dangerous fungal growth can be common in dirty household drains. Thankfully, you can protect your drains, plumbing lines, and health with proper drain maintenance. Here are a few habits to break if you want to maintain healthy drains.

1. Pouring Grease Down the Drain

Pouring grease down your drain is one of the worst habits to continue. Even if you run hot water, the grease will harden as it cools inside your drains. The grease will not only harden and clog up the actual sink drain, but it can move through your pipes, affecting your underlying plumbing and sewage systems.

Recent reports showed that fat and oil buildups cause 47 percent of 36,000 sewer overflows that happen each year in the United States. Although it affects your home’s plumbing, the grease also affects wastewater around your home, negatively affecting the environment.

2. Flushing Problematic Debris

Another habit you should stop is using your toilet as a trash can. Your toilet should only flush away bathroom waste, such as actual bodily waste and toilet tissue. Avoid flushing random pieces of trash or debris down your toilet, since this could cause serious problems in your toilet, toilet drain, and septic/sewage systems.

Flushing problematic debris increases the risk of toilet clogs and water leaks. However, a lot of this debris cannot be broken down properly by your septic/sewage system, resulting in environmental hazards, extensive flooding onto your yard, and costly repairs.

In addition, you may have been told flushing flushable wipes, contact lenses, cigarette butts, and other debris down the toilet is okay, but this debris can actually do a great deal of harm to your plumbing/septic systems.

3. Not Using Drain Strainers

Many homeowners may believe that once something goes down the drain, they will not need to worry about it. Unfortunately, just because the debris is out of sight, does not mean it should be out of your mind because the waste may still linger in your drains and pipes.

Most sinks, tubs, and showers will have some sort of cover over the actual drain opening. However, these covers do have small openings, which allow water, soap, and dirt to flow freely through. But items that should not actually move through the drain, such as larger chunks of debris, food residue, soap scum, and strands of hair, may also seep through the openings of the cover.

A drain strainer is a great investment for your sink, tub, and shower drains. These strainers do cover the drain opening, but they have much smaller openings, which are only large enough for water to move through. The strainers trap larger pieces of debris, bits of food, clumps of soap, and strands of hair, preventing them from building up and clogging your drains and underlying plumbing lines.

You can protect your drains and plumbing/septic system from overwhelming clogs, corrosion, and costly water leaks. Follow the tips in this guide to prevent the dangers of a few common habits that negatively affect your drains and plumbing lines. For more information about maintaining your drains, contact Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter today.

Boiler and pipes of the heating system of a house

Water Heater Replacement Advice For Homeowners

Every home needs hot water, but most homeowners don’t know much about their how water heaters work. Here are some tips for when to replace your hot water heater, as well as what to look for when selecting a new one.

Replacement Signs

The age of a hot water heater determines if it requires repair or replacement. Look for manufacturing information that has been printed on the hot water tank, which typically tells you the year that it was made. You’ll be able to estimate approximately how long the appliance has been installed in your home and if it is close to the age of replacement.

Hot water heaters do not live forever. In fact, they will last between 8 and 12 years before replacement is necessary. Use your judgment and assess any problems to gauge if you can get by with repair or if you need replacement.

Rust is a problem that often requires replacement, since rust damage cannot be fixed once it starts. You can slow down the rusting process, but you cannot reverse it. The risk of leaving a rusting hot water tank installed is coming home to a floor covered with water from a hole in the tank.

It’s worth inspecting the anode rod if you have rust on the tank, since the anode rod is designed to prevent rust by being a sacrificial element. The rod uses electrolysis to force corrosion to happen to the metal rod rather than the exterior of the tank, since the rod is made with metals that are more reactive than steel and will corrode first. If the anode rod is depleted, corrosion will start happening to the steel shell of the tank.

The heating element can also deteriorate from years of use. Excessive wear can occur from not emptying the tank of sediment and from setting the thermostat too high. A heating element can be repaired, but it may not be worth it if the tank is also rusty.

Replacement Tips

The need for a new hot water heater gives you the opportunity to add a better water heater to your home. Many homeowners use replacement as an opportunity to switch from a water storage tank model to a tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters have the benefit of consuming less space and using less energy. Hot water is heated on demand, so you only use energy to heat the water that you are actively using. There are no concerns with a reserve tank rusting or an anode rod to monitor, since they are not part of the appliance.

Tankless models may never run out of hot water, but can struggle with simultaneous hot water use. Talk to your plumbing contractor to select the right model that can produce enough hot water for all the showers in your home. Also offset water use for laundry and dish washing to prevent shortages when showering.

A traditional hot water storage tank model does have its own unique advantages. The price of a storage tank model is often much cheaper compared to its tankless counterpart, and storage tank models are also easier to maintain and repair. Simultaneous water use is only limited by the size of the storage tank rather than how much how water can be produced.

Unfortunately, traditional hot water storage tank models can run out of water, use more energy, and have a shorter lifespan. What you may save up front with an initial purchase may cost you more over time, so keep in mind the pros and cons of both types of heater, as well as what your hot water needs are.

If your hot water heater needs repairs, is on its last legs, or if you want to switch models, reach out to Moon Valley Plumbing for expert help.

Overcome These 2 Common Reverse Osmosis Water Challenges

When thinking about public water quality, homeowners want to know their drinking water is clean. Chromium, lead, and other contaminants in drinking water can make you and your family sick or cause cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders.

Fortunately, one method that purifies the water in your home is a reverse osmosis system. A collection of filters and membranes ensure bacteria, metals, minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants are filtered out. However, the reverse osmosis, or RO, process has some drawbacks. Here is how to overcome these two RO challenges.


1. Water Is Wasted

In order to produce clean, purified water, the RO system depends on high pressure to force water molecules through a semi-permeable membrane with pores approximately 0.0001 microns in size. Such pore size makes RO very efficient at removing all those contaminants but also makes the membrane susceptible to blockage.

The RO system uses water to automatically flush the membrane surface and remove any obstructions and buildup. The system uses four gallons of water to produce one gallon of purified water. Water-conscious people feel this water could be wasted because that water essentially goes down the drain.

You can do a couple of things to cut down on the amount of wasted water. You can install a permeate pump at your RO source to make your system more efficient. A pump uses pressure from draining wastewater to perform certain tasks, which frees up water pressure to devote toward filtration. As a result, the water storage tank fills up faster, the membrane lasts longer, and water waste is reduced.

Additionally, you can put your wastewater to good use rather than listen to it go down the drain. Some environmentally conscious RO users find ways to capture the wastewater into a holding tank for reuse. You can use wastewater for irrigation outdoors, which is helpful in dry Arizona. Other people use wastewater to initially fill their washing machine or to clean floors.


2. Water Tastes Flat

The resulting water from a reverse osmosis system is known for its ability to filter nearly all contaminants from water like harmful metals, bacteria, and other pollutants. The resulting water may be pure and clean, but it can taste flat or bland. This phenomenon occurs when your water lacks essential minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium that give water a crisp, clean taste.

You can add these important minerals back into your water after filtration. One way to achieve great-tasting RO water is to add an alkalinization or remineralization filter stage to your system. The addition of minerals raises the pH of the end product to make it taste better. Some even feel water that contains trace amounts of minerals provides a small but important contribution to your overall health.

You can choose other ways to add minerals to your RO water. Mineral drops and electrolyte blends add trace minerals back into your water, as does mineral-rich sea salts. If mixing water is not your thing, opt for a water pitcher equipped with an alkaline filter. Simply add your RO water to the pitcher and pour out a glass of perfectly flavored water.

You may already have a reverse osmosis system in place. If you are concerned about these common challenges with your own system, talk to an experienced plumber about how a permeable pump can boost your water efficiency. At Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter, we can upgrade your existing reverse osmosis systems as well as install a new system with an alkalinization filter to make your water taste more refreshing. We are always happy to answer any of your questions and concerns.

5 Places to Check Water-Using Appliances for Leaks

Although professional plumbing inspections are a necessity for a well-maintained house, every homeowner should also stay on top of home maintenance by using drains mindfully and checking for visible leaks. In addition to checking under your sinks for leaks, you should also check over any appliances with water hookups.

Here are five important places to check your major appliances with water hookups — like the refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher — for water leaks.


1. Hoses and Supply Lines

The lines that bring water to the appliance can spring leaks. These are especially common at the ends of the lines where they connect to the appliance or to the water supply pipes. Your dishwasher also has a recirculation hose that can go bad and cause a leak.

Use a clean, dry tissue to check for moisture on the lines. But remember that if it’s a cold-water line, there could be some naturally occurring condensation that doesn’t necessarily indicate a leak.


2. Pan or Drip Pan

The pan of the dishwasher where water collects and the drip pan under a refrigerator can both spring leaks. These parts are often made of plastic, which can be damaged more easily once it’s old and brittle.

If your refrigerator drain pan is dripping, though, that doesn’t always mean it’s damaged. When you see a leak under the fridge, check the pan to see if it’s actually full and overflowing instead. If so, that could simply indicate that the condenser fan has died.


3. Drain Lines

The drain line is another common spot for leaks on both the dishwasher and the clothes washer. Seals around where the dishwasher drain line connects can also start to leak when they become old and cracked. Check these seals periodically and wipe the drain lines with a tissue to check for leaks.

Although your refrigerator doesn’t regularly discharge gallons of wastewater like the clothes washer and dishwasher, the refrigerator does have a condensate drain line that can clog and cause a leak. Typically this water leaks inside the refrigerator, meaning the puddle could be hidden under your vegetable drawers, so be sure to check there periodically.

A clogged condensate line is, fortunately, relatively easy to fix and can even be a DIY project.


4. Dishwasher and Washing Machine Door Seals

If you have a modern or high-efficiency washing machine, chances are it’s front-loading. Unlike top-loading machines, these washers rely heavily on their door seals, like dishwashers. But the washing machine door seals are prone to leaking not only if they wear out but also if they become full of lint and other debris. So be sure to wipe the washing machine seal regularly.

Both the washing machine and the dishwasher should have their door seals checked for brittleness, stiffness, and cracking. If you notice these symptoms, it’s time to replace the seal. Your machine may already have a leak, or if not, it could develop one in the near future.


5. Drain Pumps

Drain pumps on both the dishwasher and the clothes washer can go bad in a variety of ways. The seals where they connect to the drains and to the machine can fail, or the drain pump itself can start to leak (or the pump can simply stop working, meaning the machine doesn’t drain properly, which is another possible cause of leakage).

You can check the seals around the drain pump yourself, but if you see the pump leaking or suspect that it’s not working correctly, you’ll want to call in a professional to diagnose and repair the damage for you.

These are five common spots you should check when looking for leaks. Many appliance leaks will make themselves known early on because of the large amount of water they emit (although tracking down the exact source of the leak can still be a problem). But even a slow drip that you don’t notice can still waste gallons and gallons of water.

For more information on the plumbing maintenance and repair services we provide, call Moon Valley Plumbing today.