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Clogged Drains: Common Culprits that Cause Household Clogs

Tired of dealing with pesky household clogs? The first step is to learn what’s causing them. The reality is there are a variety of items that could be responsible for clogged drains, but there are a few that are more likely than others. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling, a plumbing and HVAC company located in Tucson, Arizona, provide their insight into the most common culprits of clogged household drains. 



The number one clogged drain culprit? You guessed it — hair! According to Cummings Plumbing, hair is one of the most common causes of a clogged drain, especially a shower or bathtub drain. This is because when hair becomes wet, such as when you’re taking a shower, it is able to attach itself to almost anything — and this includes pipes and drains. Over time, a build up of hair can result in a large back up. In part, this is because not only does the hair build up, but the strands then have the ability to stick to or “catch” other common drain cloggers, such as residue from soap. Luckily, there is a way to avoid hair clogs in the future. You can easily find screens or special filters for the top of the drain to keep the hair out. These drain covers will allow the water through, but keep the hair out, so at the end of your shower you can discard your hair in the garbage or compost, preventing it from getting sucked down the drain.


Grease and Oil

Another common culprit for household clogs is grease. Grease and oil are often responsible for a kitchen sink clog. This is because, similar to hair, grease will stick to anything, which is a recipe for disaster when it comes to pipes. The grease or oil will harden as it cools, sticking to the pipe, and on top of that, it will stick to food or other items that end up going down your drain, resulting in a major build up. Unfortunately, there is no magic trick when it comes to grease in a drain, the simplest way to avoid this type of clog is to simply not put grease down the drain. Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, recommends disposing of grease or oil the same way you would household chemicals (i.e. pouring the substance into a disposable container and throwing it in the garbage). 


Non-Degradable Food

Many people fail to realize that not all food is suitable to go down your sink. In fact, there are many foods, even those that are biodegradable, that can cause clogs in your pipes. In addition, any foods that have trouble being ground up in your garbage disposal should not go down your sink. These include eggshells, uncooked pasta, nuts, or other high fiber foods. Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, warns that in addition to clogged pipes, putting non-degradable food down your drain can also lead to some pretty bad odors. They recommend installing a garbage disposal, if you don’t already have one, and generally avoiding putting any large scraps of food down the drain.


Paper Products

When it comes to clogged drains, most people think of their kitchen sink or shower. But there is another drain that frequently gets clogged: the toilet. This is why paper products are listed as one of the most common culprits of household clogs. The pipes on most toilets are only equipped to handle thin paper products, such as toilet paper. However, some people believe that any paper product, ranging from napkins to paper towels to hand wipes, is fair game. This is a myth, shares Cummings Plumbing. If throwing these types of paper products down the drain hasn’t already clogged it, they likely will in the future. Instead, do your best to flush nothing other than toilet paper down the toilet.

Repair or Replace: How to Tell What Your A/C Unit Requires

The air conditioning unit is one of the most important items in a home, especially a home in a warm climate like Arizona. Thus, when your A/C unit is giving you trouble, it can make for a really bad day. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling is a plumbing and HVAC company based in Tucson, Arizona. They have been in business for nearly 36 years and provide a wide range of services to their clients, including A/C repair, A/C replacement, electric services, HVAC, trenchless pipe repair, and water heater repair and replacement. They share a few telltale signs that your A/C unit is past the point of repair and instead needs to be replaced entirely. 

Telltale Sign #1: The Unit Itself is Old

What exactly is considered “old” when it comes to an A/C unit? According to Cummings Plumbing, any air conditioning unit that is between 10 and 15 years old is considered old and may need to be replaced. This applies to both central and ductless air conditioners. Typically, A/C units have a lifespan of about a decade or a decade and a half, but no more than two decades. So, if you’ve had the same unit for over 10 years, the necessary repairs are likely to start racking up and they generally aren’t cheap with units this old. It’s a good idea to have a technician take a look and give you their opinion on whether it’s time to call it and buy a new unit or it’s worth sticking it out a while longer and dealing with the necessary repairs as they come.

Telltale Sign #2: You’ve Repaired it Multiple Times Already

Another telltale sign that you’re in need of an A/C replacement is if you are frequently having your unit repaired. If you’re experiencing cracks, breaks, and/or regular stoppages, it’s a clear sign that the components inside the unit are wearing down. Occasional repairs are completely normal, but multiple repairs over a short span of time, such as during the summer months, is a sign of something much more serious. Of course, you always have the option of continuing with regular repairs. However, Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling recommends upgrading to an entirely new unit, as at this point, you’ll likely be spending more on repairs than you would on a new unit.

Telltale Sign #3: Your Energy Bills Are Going Up

According to Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, if you notice your energy bills are starting to rise it could be a sign that your A/C unit is in need of repair or replacement. As A/C units age, they may be required to work harder and use much more power to do the same amount of work. That is why you might notice an increase in your bill, yet you’re receiving the same amount of cool air as in the past. In this situation, though upgrading your unit may not be strictly necessary from a functional standpoint, it might be the right decision as in the long run, it could very well save you money. Air conditioners are becoming increasingly energy efficient. Nowadays, A/C units have SEER ratings and the higher the rating, the more energy efficient the unit is. If you decide to buy a new one but aren’t sure which is best for you, consider asking a professional, such as Cummings Plumbing, who would be happy to provide their advice regarding the most energy efficient units on the market today.

Leaky Hot Water Tank? Cummings Plumbing Explains What to do Before the Plumber Gets There

Leaky hot water tanks are a common occurrence in many households. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation, such as when you spot a leak, is important in order to keep your house safe and free from damage. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling is a plumbing and HVAC company based in Tucson, Arizona. Their specialty lies in repairing and installing residential and commercial plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. They provide a few tips on what to do when you have a leaky hot water tank. 

Figure Out the Source of the Leak

Notice a leak in your hot water tank? The first course of action is to determine the source of the leak. Cummings Plumbing Heating & Cooling of Tucson, Arizona, claims that more often than not, it isn’t actually your hot water tank leaking, but something else. Whatever you do, don’t panic. Instead, take the time necessary to figure out where the leak might be coming from and if it is even a leak that you’re dealing with. For example, not all water found at the base of a hot water tank is necessarily a leak. Sometimes condensation can form and as it builds, it causes droplets of water to land on the floor. In addition, something else, such as the water softener discharge lines, furnace drain lines, or another plumbing issue could be the cause of the leak. In order to determine the source, dry the area and then inspect the hot water tank for signs of a leak. If you don’t notice anything obvious, inspect any other possible sources (remember to look up as water will always drip down). If you still aren’t sure, place some paper towels on the floor over the area where you found the original puddle of water. Check back every few hours to see if any water has returned. If the water doesn’t return after a day or two, it was likely just a build up of condensation; however, if it returns and you haven’t found any other obvious leak, then it is more likely your hot water tank.

Turn Off the Power

As soon as you have determined that your hot water tank is responsible for the leak, Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, claims that your next course of action should be to turn off the power supply to the hot water tank. If you have an electric water heater, there should be an “off” switch for your water heater on the circuit breaker box. Alternatively, if you have a gas water heater, you should be able to find an “off” switch or dial on the tank itself, usually towards the bottom. Ideally, you want to avoid turning off the gas shut-off valve, as these can be quite finicky and hard to turn back on.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Cummings Plumbing’s final piece of advice for a DIY repair of your leaky hot water tank is to turn off the water supply. Before a plumber arrives, do your best to turn off the water supply to your house by turning the cold water shut-off valve to “off.” Typically, cold water shut-off valves either have a handle that you will pull down on or a dial that can be turned clockwise. It’s important to note here that Cummings Plumbing does not recommend closing the cold water shut-off valve if you can’t reach it without coming into contact with water. Thus, if you’re unable to turn it off, then your only option will be to turn off the house’s main shut-off valve; however, this will cut off any and all water supply to your house. One benefit to shutting off the main water supply valve is that it should completely stop, or at the very least, slow down the leak. 

Emergency Plumbing: What to Do with a Leaky Pipe

A leaky pipe is one of the most common plumbing issues people face. However, very few people know the proper way to go about fixing one. Worse, in a plumbing emergency, every second counts, which can make matters even more stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling, a plumbing and HVAC company based in Tucson, Arizona, provide their expertise on fixing pipes. The company specializes in repairing and installing all types of units, including plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. 

Step One: Turn Off the Water Supply Valve 

According to Cummings Plumbing, the very first step in fixing a leaky or burst pipe should be to turn off the water supply valve. Before starting to fix the problem, you first need to ensure that no water is going to spurt out at you, so locating and switching off the supply water valve is a must. If you aren’t sure which water supply valve supplies the water to the specific pipe that is leaking, then it’s best just to shut off the main supply valve for the time being. From there, you can buy yourself some time until a plumber arrives. 

Step Two: Clean Up the Mess

Whether you have a minor leak with drops of water slowly seeping out or a sudden burst resulting in a small flood in your kitchen, cleaning up the mess should be the second step in fixing your leaky pipe. Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling of Tucson, Arizona, recommends not only cleaning up the bottom of the cabinet where the water might be concentrated, but also the leaky pipe itself and any surrounding fixtures. Further, you’ll want to mop up the floor if any water has spread there and clear out the cabinet and surrounding areas where your plumber will have to work. 

Step Three: Assess and Smooth Out the Leaky Pipe

Now that the area is clean, it’s time to prepare your leaky pipe for your temporary patch. Before you patch up a leaky pipe, you must take time to assess and properly prepare the area for the patch. This includes checking to make sure there is no rust, limescale, or rough edges on the surface of the pipe, as well as using sandpaper to smooth out any build up on the pipe. This will not only be good for your pipes in the long term, but it will make your temporary patch more effective and give it a better chance of holding up against water flow, should you need to turn your water back on before a plumber can fix it. 

Step Four: Seal the Leak Via a Temporary Patch

The fourth and final step regarding what to do with a leaky pipe is to seal the leak using a temporary patch. If you don’t have time to wait for a plumber and want to take matters into your own hands, Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, recommends temporarily sealing the pipes by using plumber’s epoxy, available at most local hardware stores. All you need to do before applying it to your pipe is to mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Remember to mold the silly putty-like epoxy to fit the gap in your pipe exactly. Then, smooth out the edges and let it dry for however long as the instructions dictate. Applying this seal or patch is a great way to fix the problem temporarily; however, it isn’t a long term solution. While doing the proper research, including reading articles like these, can help you temporarily fix a leaky pipe on your own, it is possible to make things worse if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thus, if you’re ever unsure of your DIY plumbing skills, it is highly recommended that you call a professional. 

Top DIY Plumbing Mistakes

Who doesn’t love a “do it yourself” project? Most people are intrigued by the idea of taking on a DIY task, especially one that might save them money and help them learn something new along the way. However, when it comes to the complicated art of plumbing, taking a DIY approach can be an unmitigated disaster, especially if you fail to do the necessary research in advance. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling is a plumbing and HVAC company based in Tucson, Arizona, whose specialty is repairing and installing residential and commercial plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. Cummings Plumbing has been proudly serving their customers for nearly four decades, having first opened their doors in 1983. Needless to say, they know what they’re doing when it comes to all things plumbing. This makes them the perfect company to provide their expertise on the subject of DIY plumbing. The company highlights what they view as the top three DIY plumbing mistakes. 

Overtightening Connections

According to Cummings Plumbing, the top DIY plumbing mistake is when people over tighten connections. Connections, such as pipes, supply tubes, and fittings, need to be watertight in order to function properly. And so, people think that in order to make them watertight, they should tighten them more than necessary. This is a mistake, as often these connections already come with a watertight seal and tightening them more is not only unnecessary but can actually damage the fittings and break the rubber or plastic washers used to create the seal. Further, tightening a pipe too much can also lead to cracked plastic fittings, which makes the entire thing useless. Such a crack may not occur immediately, but the excessive force caused by the tightening can be enough to weaken it until a few weeks later, it cracks and you’re dealing with a flood. 

Over Relying on Drain Cleaner

Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling of Tucson, Arizona, shares the second most common DIY plumbing mistake: over relying on drain cleaner. While chemical drain cleaners can sometimes be effective at eliminating minor clogs, they ultimately do more harm than good when it comes to your pipes. This is because the harsh chemicals drain cleaners contain can significantly damage the pipes and fixtures, especially if you use too much at one time or use it regularly. In addition, if the drain cleaner doesn’t clear up the clog, then it might just be left sitting on top of the drain, which presents a toxic danger to anyone within close contact, even creating a breathing hazard. Instead, when you have a clogged drain, you should either use a drain snake or other barbed drain cleaning tool, or if that isn’t an option, create a concoction out of natural cleaning ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, and hot water to ease the problem.

Failing to Turn off the Water

Turning off the water might seem like plumbing 101, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this small but crucial step. Tarizurning off the water should be the very first step in any DIY plumbing project. Failure to do so can result in an expensive disaster, where water sprays from a loosened pipe connection or pours freely out of a pipe after a fixture is removed. Not only will this lead to a huge mess, it can also mean more damage to your house that has to be fixed. In addition, you’ll become so preoccupied with fixing the new problem that it’ll take much longer to fix the original problem you were working on. Further, Cummings Plumbing reminds all DIY plumbers to remember that shutting off the water source doesn’t mean there will magically be no water in your pipes all of a sudden. That is why after shutting it off but before you start working on the plumbing, Cummings Plumbing of Tucson, Arizona, always recommends that you run the kitchen or bathroom faucets for a few seconds to make sure they’re really clear. 

Understanding HVAC Basics in Arizona

Whether you’re a brand new or longtime homeowner, understanding the basics of your home’s HVAC unit is a must. An HVAC system is one of the most important components to a house, especially for households located in extreme climates, such as that of Arizona. 

Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling, a plumbing and HVAC company based out of Tucson, Arizona, are experts on the repair and installation of residential and commercial plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. They know how important it is that homeowners have at least a basic understanding of how HVAC systems work, and more importantly, how to keep them running smoothly. They provide a few basic tips that all Arizona homeowners should know about their HVAC. 

Always Keep Your Outdoor Unit Clean

One of the basic tips relating to HVAC systems is to always keep the outdoor unit clean. It doesn’t take much for an outdoor unit to be covered in dirt, leaves, and other debris, but this can lead to issues in the long term. That is why homeowners should regularly clean their outdoor unit. Beyond simply removing any leaves, weeds, or other build up around the unit, clean it with water via a hose. However, be sure that the power to the outdoor unit has been turned off before doing so. In addition, although you can get away with doing this less frequently, Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling advises all homeowners to deep clean the inside of the unit as well, removing the panels and giving them a wash.   

Change Your Filter Regularly

Another HVAC 101 tip? Change out your filter regularly. This is one of the easiest and best tips when it comes to keeping your HVAC unit running smoothly. Professionals recommend all homeowners change out their HVAC filter every three months and replace their filters along with the seasons. So, when Summer turns to Fall, it means it’s time to change your filter. In addition to keeping your system running efficiently, a new filter can drastically improve the air quality inside your home. If you like, Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling often advises homeowners to change their filter and clean their outdoor unit simultaneously. They can easily be done at the same time and that way, you don’t have to perform maintenance on your unit all the time.

Maintain Your HVAC System

Maintaining your HVAC system is yet another tip for all Arizona homeowners. If you want your HVAC system to last as long as possible, then regular maintenance is a must. Cummings Plumbing recommends scheduling an annual HVAC check-up with an experienced technician. Not only will the technician make sure everything is running smoothly and fix potential kinks, but they are experts at preventative maintenance. This means that they will perform tasks such as cleaning the condensation drain line, which are not necessarily problems but could turn into problems if not dealt with. 

Know When It Should Be Replaced

Lastly, it is critical all Arizona homeowners are able to identify when their HVAC system needs to be replaced. The average lifespan of an HVAC unit is roughly 15 to 20 years. This means that depending on how old your current unit is, it may be time for a replacement sooner rather than later. Cummings Plumbing recommends all new homeowners find out the age of the HVAC system before buying the house, just so that they have all the information. While time is one of the best indicators regarding when to replace your HVAC unit, routine problems are another indicator. If you’re constantly attempting DIY jobs to fix one thing or another, or calling a professional, it might be time for a replacement. Generally speaking, Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling of Tucson, Arizona, says that once your system is costing you a decent amount of money in repairs every single month, it’s likely going to be more cost-effective (not to mention less stressful) to replace it. No one ever wants to spend more money repairing a unit than it would cost to get a brand new one.

What Happened to the Hot Water??

The colder temperatures are on the way here in Arizona – and with that comes water heater breakdowns. In order to avoid a cold shower when you least expect it, be on the lookout for signs that your water heater might need to be repaired or replaced. Below are the top signs of water heater malfunction to be on the lookout for!

  • Sounds – if your water heater is making noise, it’s usually bad news. That means there’s sediment build-up in bottom of the hot water tank that is being shaken around. As the sediment moves around, it hits the water heater elements, sides of the tanks, and tubing. This causes natural wear and eventually results in failure
  • Rusty Water – If the water comes out of your pipes looking muddy, sandy, or rusty, this usually means that the sediment has caused problems in pipes and in the water heater and has now contaminated your water. Your water heater should be inspected and the likelihood of it needing to be replaced will be pretty high.
  • Leaks – Water heater leaks are not normal. They can actually be dangerous because it’s leaking hot water. Sediment, rust, or some sort of malfunction has caused the wall of the water heater or a pipe to be compromised. Because water heaters are under pressure, this creates a very unsafe condition.
  • Water that has a Smell or Taste – If the water has a smell or taste, that can mean that a heating element in the water heater is malfunctioning, there is metal in the water, or there is another issue that is causing the smell or taste. Weird smells and tastes should be checked out as soon as possible because it could be hazardous to your health.
  • Water that is not the Correct Temperature – If your hot water is only coming out warm, even after a long absence of being used, that means that the heating elements are no longer working properly, or that there could be other issues causing a lack of power supply to the heating element. You should get this checked to ensure that there isn’t a larger problem.
  • Frequent Repairs – Sometimes, getting a water heater repaired is a good solution instead of getting an actual replacement. However, after so many repairs, it may be time to just replace the entire water heater altogether. Remember that water heaters work under pressure. You have gallons of hot water in your home under pressure and if you have a faulty water heater, it may be in your best interest to just get a brand new one.
  • Age – The life expectancy on a typical water heater is generally between 8 and 10 years. This can be even less if you don’t have a proper filtration system, or your water heater hasn’t had regular maintenance. Even if you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is a good idea to have a professional check your unit for functionality if you know its getting up there in years. As with anything, water heaters need to be maintained as they age.

Cummings Plumbing Heating and Cooling offers professional service for water heater repair and replacement! For more information about our water heater services, give us a call or click here to book an appointment.