What NOT to Flush Down the Toilet

Avoiding a Clogged Toilet

One of the most common service calls we receive is to fix a clogged toilet. And, more often than not, the clog is caused by what was flushed down the toilet. Clogged toilets are not only an inconvenience, but they can also cause extensive damage to your plumbing system. Of course, there are also other causes of a clogged toilet, such as infiltration of your sewer lines by tree roots or other debris, but your best course of action is to call a plumber, such as the service pros at Atlas Butler. We can assess the situation, unclog your toilet and recommend the next steps to be taken.

Here is a list of items that should never be flushed down the toilet:

  1. Disposable diapers and baby wipes. These products do not break down in water, thus leading to serious clogs.
  2. Feminine hygiene products. Sanitary napkins and tampons are designed to absorb liquid and expand in water.
  3. Cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are made of toxic chemicals which pollute water.
  4. Q-tips, cotton balls, and cotton pads. These items do not break down in water and create clogs.
  5. Medications. Most drugs don’t break down in toilet water and can cause introduce toxins to the waste water system.
  6. Paper towels, tissues, and too much toilet paper. Paper products don’t disintegrate in water and can result in clogs. While toilet paper is biodegradable, using too much can sometimes clog the toilet.
  7. Cat litter and pet waste. Despite packing claims, cat litter does not break down in water and can cause clogs. In addition, pet waste can include parasites that can infiltrate the water system.
  8. Dental floss and hair. While vastly different in composition, both cause the same plumbing problems — acting as a net or “nest” to collect debris and thus, clog pipes.

If you have a clogged toilet, contact Atlas Butler at 614-681-2183 to schedule a toilet repair appointment. Our phones are answered 24/7 by a live person. We have 24-hour access to parts and the largest service fleet in Central Ohio. Our licensed plumbers will unclog your toilet and if the problem is unrelated to what was flushed down the toilet, can make recommendations on how to proceed with repairs – whether it is to replace the toilet or repair aging or damaged pipes inside or outside your home.

2022-07-26T16:08:41-04:00June 26th, 2022|Around the House, Maintenance, Toilets|

Tips for Removing Rust Stains on Your Toilet

Dealing with Toilet Rust Stains

Rust stains in your toilet bowl are unsightly and are often founds in homes where there is a high level of iron in the water. In older homes with iron pipes, the pipes may be naturally deteriorating and leaching iron into the water. The good news is that iron won’t harm you, but if don’t address it, it can further damage your plumbing system. Removing iron stains from your toilet is pretty easy. It’s important to stay on top of it so the cleaning process doesn’t become more difficult over time. The licensed plumbers at Atlas Butler can check your plumbing system to see how the iron situation can be remedied. In many cases, adding a water filtration (softening) system will remove excess iron from your water. With older homes with pipes that are wearing out, the solution is to replace the iron pipes with ones made from copper or PEX.

If you want to use natural products to remove rust stains from your toilet bowl, you’ll need white distilled vinegar and baking soda. Do not use bleach as it can actually exacerbate the rust stains. Flush the toilet and you can also temporarily shut off the water to keep the bowl from refilling while you’re cleaning it. Mix a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar and spray the toilet bowl. You can also use a 3:1 mixture of baking soda and vinegar to create a paste to apply to stubborn stains. Let the vinegar or paste set for a couple of hours, then scrub using a soft cloth or old toothbrush. Turn the water back on and flush the toilet. To stay on top of a rust problem, once a week, you can add  1-2 cups of vinegar to the toilet bowl, scrub and flush.  There are also commercial products you can buy to remove rust stains but some of them may contain harsher chemicals than natural solutions.

If you want to conduct further investigation of heavy iron presence in your water, contact Atlas Butler at 614-681-2183. We can help you determine if a water softening system is the best solution for your home or replace your existing toilet with a shiny new white one. Our phones are answered 24/7/365 and in most cases, are available for same-day appointments.

2022-07-26T15:40:24-04:00May 21st, 2022|Around the House, Maintenance, Toilets|

The Necessity of a Sump Pump

Why a Sump Pump is So Important

A sump pump is one of those appliances in your home that work quietly behind the scenes until it doesn’t!

During early spring, Ohio, along with the rest of the Midwest can experience heavy rains, which can mean flooded basements. Water in the basement can lead to a number of problems, such as destruction of personal property, foundation damage, and mold growth. Installing a sump pump can keep excess water from accumulating in your basement and prevent water damage, and some insurance companies may give you a discount on your homeowner’s coverage if you use one. If your sump pump is on its last leg, the team at Atlas Butler Plumbing can help you choose the best model for your home.

A sump pump is installed in the lowest part of the basement and rainwater collects in a sump basin. Once the water level rises, it activates the float, which turns the sump pump on. The sump pump expels the water from the sump basin, out of a drainage pipe and safely away from your house. After the sump pump has done its job, it shuts off automatically. Sump pumps are operated by electricity, but many models come with a battery-powered backup should your home lose electricity during a storm.

Sump Pump Installation

In the long run, installing a new sump pump is a smart investment when you compare the cost of the pump and installation to what you would pay to repair water damage to your home. Our plumbing pros can install a new model that can handle the volume of water that your house will attract and if it fits your budget, we can install a unit that is powered by a battery backup to keep the water pumping.

Atlas Butler Plumbing can handle the job

Contact Atlas Butler at 614-681-2183 to schedule an appointment. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our phones are answered by a live person. Atlas Butler has proudly been serving the Columbus area for more than 100 years (and counting!)

Schedule now and save 10% on a new sump pump installation.

Save 10% on a sump pump replacement

2022-04-22T15:21:30-04:00April 12th, 2022|Around the House, Maintenance|

Why You Should Use a Licensed Plumber

It looks so easy online and on TV. A couple installs a new kitchen faucet on Saturday morning and by evening, they are entertaining in the open-plan kitchen while the water flows quietly from the elegant tap. You try the same thing, and you get a flooded kitchen. What happens next? You end up calling a licensed plumber to come out, repair the damage, and reinstall the faucet. In the end, you’ve spent twice as much money as if you’d had a plumber do the job from the beginning.

Having a licensed professional handle your home’s plumbing needs is assurance that the job will be done correctly the first time. Note the word, licensed. In Ohio, to become a licensed plumber, applicants must pass a background check, pass an exam, have at minimum five years’ work experience, not have a criminal record that would prohibit licensure, and carry a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance. Plumbers need to understand not only plumbing basics, but also general contracting, and be experienced in working with hazardous properties such as natural gas and underground utilities.

Work by unlicensed plumbers is not guaranteed and should they have an accident while on your premises or damage your home, you would liable for any damages to your property. Most home insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by unlicensed workers. One of the benefits of working with a licensed plumber is that many of them are bonded. You don’t want somebody working in your home who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s too risky and any money you think you’d save would probably be spent correcting mistakes or on home repair.

Atlas Butler Plumbers are Licensed and Experienced

The plumbers at Atlas Butler are licensed and undergo rigorous training and continuing education. We have a large crew of certified plumbers in Central Ohio who have 24-hour access to parts and supplies. We also have a property protection guarantee where we take care to keep your house as clean as possible while we are working. We will repair or replace any damaged items to your satisfaction. Atlas Butler never uses subcontractors and all of our plumbers are our employees. We have proudly served our customers for more than 100 years. Why trust your home to anybody else? For your plumbing needs, call Atlas Butler today at 614-681-2183.

2022-03-21T09:34:07-04:00February 25th, 2022|Maintenance|

Common Winter Plumbing Emergencies

Dealing with Winter Plumbing Emergencies

Few people enjoy winter and with good reason. While snow may be pretty to look at, ice and frigid temperatures are hard on home plumbing systems. Your faucets and pipes need extra attention during cold-weather months to stave off problems like frozen pipes and backed-up sinks. The service pros at Atlas Butler Plumbing have some advice to homeowners to keep their plumbing system in optimal condition during harsh winter weather.

Frozen pipes

Frozen pipes can be a disaster. The frozen water expands the pipes and they can burst, which can cause considerable damage to your home. One way to prevent this catastrophe is to drip your faucets when the temperatures plunge. Another tip is to open the cabinets beneath the sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows the warm air from the house to circulate around the pipes to prevent freezing.

Water heater failure

Having the hot water go out when you’re in the shower or just put in a load of laundry is inconvenient, to say the least. Your water heater will give you some signs when it’s about to go bad. First of all, listen for strange noises coming from the water heater. This can be a sign of sediment build-up. Other clues include brownish, rust-colored, and unpleasant-smelling water. In this case, you need to call a plumber to inspect the water heater. If the tank is leaking, the best solution is to replace the water heater completely.

Clogged drains

Clogged drains can happen any time of the year but can be especially problematic during the winter when plumbers are booked up dealing with frozen pipes and other weather-related issues. Treat your garbage disposal with care. NEVER put eggshells or coffee grounds down the disposal. Eggshells do not sharpen the blades. As well, don’t throw pasta, rice, or vegetable and fruit peels down the sink. Citrus peel doesn’t deodorize the unit and can cause a lot of damage. A good rule of “thumb” is actually the palm of your hand. If you can’t close your fist around the waste, it’s too big to put in the garbage disposal. Another tip: use LOTS of water in the disposal, before and after turning it on.

We provide service for Plumbing Emergencies All Year

If you face any of these plumbing problems, rest assured. The service pros at Atlas Butler are available 24/7/365, including weekends and holidays. There are never any overtime or after-hours additional charges. We will do everything we can to get your system up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible. Call us at 614-681-2183.

2022-03-21T09:34:17-04:00January 31st, 2022|Maintenance|

Reasons Why Your Toilet Won’t Flush

Dealing With A Broken Toilet

If you’re having people over, whether it’s for a holiday gathering or to watch the playoffs, the last thing you need is a toilet that won’t flush. Not only is it embarrassing, but annoying. The good news is that this problem can usually be easily fixed. However, if all of your DIY attempts fail, then reach out to the plumbers at Atlas Butler. In most cases, we will arrive the same day you call for service and our phone is answered by a live person 24/7.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your toilet won’t flush.


Clogs can result from putting too much toilet paper in the bowl or trying to flush objects like disposable diapers or feminine hygiene products. In other cases, it could be that a child tried to flush toys or other items down the toilet. See if you can fish out whatever is causing the clog from the toilet and you can also try using a plunger. Here are some things you should never flush down the toilet.

Water Levels in the Tank

The toilet tank should fill up to within one inch below the top of the overflow valve. It could be that the water valve was shut off. Turn the valve back on and see if that tank will fill up to the recommended level.

Flapper Needs Replaced

When the toilet is flushed, the flapper opens to allow water from the tank to rush into the bowl. If the flapper is cracked or warped, it won’t be able to close properly and the tank can’t refill. Flappers are inexpensive and you can easily replace them yourself.

Tangled Chain

The lift chain raises and lowers the flapper when you flush the toilet. Sometimes, the chain can wrap around itself so it doesn’t have enough length to operate the flapper. You can straighten out the chain and everything should work just fine. If the chain has other damage, it should be replaced.

If none of these solutions work, then give Atlas Butler a call at 614-681-2183. We have served Central Ohio for more than 100 years, and you can count on us to get your toilet flushing properly right away.

2022-04-22T14:46:43-04:00January 18th, 2022|Around the House, Maintenance, Toilets|

Preparing Downspouts for Winter

Those colorful autumn leaves may be great to look at, but you won’t remember them so fondly during the winter months, when they’ve clogged up your gutters and downspouts. Winters in Ohio are harsh enough and you don’t need problems with frozen downspouts to add to the misery. If your downspouts are clogged with leaves and other debris, water from rain and melting snow can refreeze in the downspouts which will cause them to expand. This can cause the downspouts and gutters to pull away from the house. Clogged gutters can also contribute to the formation of ice dams, which is that thick layer of ice that forms around the edge of the roof and eaves of the house. The icicles might be pretty, but the constant freeze-refreeze cycle can cause roof damage and moisture can even seep further into the house, weakening and staining ceilings. During warmer weather, stagnant water along with damp and decaying leaves and debris in the gutters will trap moisture, which can lead to dry rot.

Even if your gutters are in good shape, they are useless if the downspouts are clogged. Leaves and other refuse can get lodged in the downspouts which will prevent water from flowing through to either the ground or into underground pipes. You also need to pay close attention to the elbow joints (the area where the gutter joins the downspout), which are particularly susceptible to clogs or ice. Another thing to check is to make sure that water from the downspouts flows away from your house. Otherwise, standing water can cause serious foundations problems.

If you are concerned about the state of your gutters and downspouts, call the pros at Atlas Butler. We can come out and inspect your guttering system to see what steps you need to take to prepare for winter.

You can also clean your downspouts yourself. You need a ladder, hose, spray nozzle and plumber’s snake.

  1. Remove any visible debris from the top of the downspout.
  2. Insert the hose into the top of the downspout and spray a forceful jet of water downwards. This will help loosen the clog.
  3. If the clog persist, insert the plumber’s snake and start cranking.
  4. Keep repeating the process until the clog is completely broken up.

Frankly, doing this one time will probably be enough. That’s where Atlas Butler comes in. We service downspout drains and can offer solutions to prevent the clogs in the first place. There are filtration systems that you can use that will prevent leaves and other waste matter from getting lodged in the gutters and downspouts. There are also thermal systems to use during the winter that will break the freeze-thaw cycle and prevent ice dams. Whatever the problem, Atlas Butler has a solution.


2022-04-22T14:47:22-04:00July 11th, 2021|Maintenance|

Keeping Your Drain Traps Clear

Many clogged bathroom drains are due to a build-up of hair. A quick way to tell is if the drain in the sink or shower is draining slowly or is completely backed up. If the water eventually dissipates, then you probably have a hair clog. One easy solution is to get a Zip-It tool, which is a thin serrated plastic strip that you poke down your drain, which you can find online or in a big box or hardware store. (They also go by names like “Hair Weasel.”) The plastic teeth on the strip will catch the hair and you can easily pull it out and dispose of it. However, if the Zip-It didn’t work or you suspect a more serious problem, then contact the service pros at Atlas Butler. We can take a look and see if your drains need to be snaked or rooted or if there is a more serious problem like damaged pipes or tree root obstruction. We are available 24/7; call us at 614-681-2183.

2022-04-22T14:47:31-04:00July 10th, 2021|Around the House, Kitchen Drains, Maintenance|

How to Diagnose Low Water Pressure

There is nothing worse than turning on the shower and getting low water pressure. Or how about trying to fill a large pot full of water for cooking and only a trickle comes out of the sink. There are a few causes of low water pressure, but they all result in not enough water flowing through the pipes.

Common points for low water pressure are valves and shower heads, which may result from scale or calcium buildup in pipes and fixtures. Buildup is caused by minerals that exist in municipal hard water systems, and there really isn’t much you can do to prevent it. One DIY tip is to clean your shower head yourself in a solution of vinegar and water and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. However, when it comes to trying to clean out the pipes yourself, proceed with caution. Many OTC drain cleaners can cause even more harm to your pipes and a maintenance call from a licensed plumber will cost you less in the end.

Scale and calcium buildup also affects your faucets and shower heads, which in some cases, may require replacement. A shower head is a simple fix, but sink, tub and kitchen faucets may be a little trickier and may require a plumbing professional

If you are experiencing low water pressure, call the service pros at Atlas Butler Plumbing at 614-681-2183. We can diagnose the problem and recommend a solution, which may include replacing old valves, or something simple like a chemical solution to remove scale buildup. We also install water softeners to remove those particles from your water supply before they reach your pipes, valves and faucets.

2022-04-22T14:48:03-04:00May 11th, 2021|Around the House, Maintenance|

What not to put down your kitchen drain

You flip on the water and the disposal after cleaning dinner dishes, and the water doesn’t drain. The water mixed with the scraps from dinner circle the drain while your disposal hums. You probably have a clog that needs to be cleared. The main culprit of a clogged kitchen sink is a backed-up garbage disposal, which can happen when you put things down the drain that collect in the pipe.  Kitchen disposals are designed to chop up food refuse and send them down the main drain, but there are some foods and particles that can collect and create a backup. There are many preventive steps you can take to avoid these problems, which starts with knowing what NOT to put down your kitchen drain.

The worst items to put down your garbage disposal are greases and fats, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps and eggshells. Other no-nos include pasta and rice, which when combined with water, can stick together and create a mess. A good rule of thumb, or hand, is … if the scraps are bigger than your fist, then don’t put them down the disposal. And don’t forget to run lots and lots of water.

If you have a clogged sink or backed-up garbage disposal, call Atlas Butler Plumbing at 614-681-2183 to schedule an appointment. Our experienced plumbing techs will inspect the drain and find the quickest solution to open your drain. The pros at Atlas Butler Plumbing are available 24/7 for plumbing emergencies in your home.

2022-04-22T14:48:09-04:00April 1st, 2021|Around the House, Kitchen Drains, Maintenance|
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