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When you turn on a faucet or flush the toilet, you expect it to work properly. Many times, people move about their house using these appliances without giving them a second thought. Sometimes, homeowners use them incorrectly, even if you aren’t aware. This will result in damages that take time and money to repair.
Avoid a messy surprise and learn how to best care for the plumbing in your home. Here are a few ways you may be damaging your plumbing without realizing it.
1. Using Drain Cleaner
When water starts to back up in the tub or sink, what is the first thing you do? The most common solution is to keep a bottle of clog remover and drain cleaner on hand for quick removal of build-up. They’re a quick and cheap fix for this plumbing problem. However, many times, it will take many uses to completely rid your drain of the clog. Multiple uses of these chemicals can be harmful to your pipes, the environment and yourself as they contain many toxic ingredients.
Additionally, you can't use the same clog removal solution on your toilets as your sink and bathtub. Using a standard product could result in permanent damage to your pipes or a cracked toilet bowl. Try alternate routes like a plunger or toilet auger.
2. Using Your Plumbing as A Trash Can
I am guilty of this, as I’m sure many other homeowners are as well. After dinner, we rinse our plates without removing any food residue. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, food simply should not go down the drain. The solution is a small habit change for better kitchen plumbing. Always scrape off any food leftovers on your plate before rinsing. You can also make the small investment in a sink strainer, to catch any food you may have missed from going down the drain. They tend to cost between $3 to $15 depending on what style you’d like for your sink.
Toilets are similar. Once flushed, items enter a three-inch drain pipe that connects to your main system. Given the small amount of space, it could easily end up permanently damaging the pipes. You should never flush trash down the toilet. This includes cat litter, food and paper towels. Talk to your children about what is appropriate to flush as well, as toys tend to be a common culprit in plumbing issues.
3. Not Thinking of Pipes in Walls
If you’re undergoing a bathroom remodel or just doing some simple improvements, understand where plumbing pipes are hiding behind your wall. A simple hole in the wall can turn into a leaky pipe if you’re unaware of what is behind where you plan to drill or cut. Always place towel racks and hooks into the studs of the wall. A stud finder is a great investment to make and can help you avoid a plumbing disaster. If you plan on doing any major work near or around your plumbing, call a pro to help.
4. Pouring Grease Down the Drain
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Similarly, to rinsing food down the drain, you should be aware that any sort of grease can cause damage to your drain. In fact, according to the EPA, 47% of blockages in the U.S. are due to fat, oil and grease build-up. When hot grease or fat is poured down the drain, it sticks to the pipe as it cools. And the more grease that is poured into the pipe, the quicker it will clog.
Instead of putting your cooking grease down the drain, have a jar nearby where you can pour the excess fat in and wait for it to cool before throwing away. Some greases, such as bacon grease, can be reused in other recipes if stored properly.
5. Putting Too Much Weight on Plumbing Fixtures
Your hanging shower caddy may match your bathroom décor perfectly. However, shower heads and plumbing fixtures were not meant to hold weight. Too many heavy bottles and shower accessories can result in damage to the shower head or other plumbing parts you may hang things from. An easy solution is to find a free standing shower caddy or shower shelving.
6. Not Locating the Water Shut-Off
If there is ever a plumbing emergency, or you need to fix a pipe, knowing the location of your water shut-off is vital. Plumbing utilities typically have individual valves that cut water supply to the specified location. In an emergency or to inform the plumber, it’s a good idea to locate your water main too. This is different for every household but generally can be found in a basement or an outside wall.
7. Fixing it Yourself
The biggest mistake a homeowner can make to damage their plumbing is thinking you can fix it yourself. Knowing when to call a plumber is extremely important and could save you money in the end. Your plumbing system has intricate parts that often takes a pro to fix. Contact a pro if you have frozen or leaking pipes, need to install plumbing, no hot water or if you simply do not know how to fix the issue at hand.
Your plumbing is an important part of how your home functions. It’s easy to take our plumbing for granted, especially when it’s working properly. With proper care, you can keep your pipes and appliances in great condition for years to come.