Plumbing emergencies – such as a clogged toilet or blocked kitchen sink – are nothing short of a nightmare. At such times, you don’t have an option – all you can do is call a professional plumbing company and get the problem fixed. However, if you know a thing or two about plumbing, you can prevent routine issues and enjoy life in your Central Florida home.
Here are seven common mistakes to avoid to keep your home plumbing system in good condition:
1- Don’t overload your garbage disposal – The workhorse of the kitchen, most of us don’t think about proper garbage disposal use and maintenance until it jams up. Cut food waste into small pieces and feed it in gradually, rather than dumping it in all at once. Candice Harding for Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford offers excellent advice on what not to run down a disposal, plus tips on keeping it in top operating condition.
2- Don’t use too much drain cleaner – While drain cleaners are good at clearing clogs and scum build-up, using too much, too often, can damage your pipes. Drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide – otherwise known as caustic soda or lye – that can eat away at the walls of your pipes with overuse. Educational website ThoughtCo. provides a Guide to Eco-Friendly Drain Cleaners that offers effective alternatives – from commercially available enzymatic biological drain cleaners, to a DIY approach – as described in this excerpt:
“For those who would rather avoid such chemicals entirely, safer alternatives do exist. A plunger or mechanical drain snake — along with a little elbow grease — can often free up clogs as well or better than sodium hydroxide compounds. One home remedy with a proven track record is to pour a handful of baking soda mixed with a half cup of vinegar down the drain and follow it quickly with boiling water.
Flushing drains weekly with boiling water can help keep them clear. Also, installing small screens atop drains will help keep hair, lint and other clogging elements out of the pipeline in the first place.”
Also, be sure to use drain cleaners only for sink and tub drains – never toilet or washing machine drain pipes – as use in these areas can cause severe damage.
3- Be careful what you flush – Only three things should be flushed down the toilet, one of them being toilet paper. That is, paper produced specifically for the purpose – not tissues, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs or baby wipes. Even wipes that claim to be “flushable” really aren’t, and can clog your pipes. To see what baby wipes can do to a pipe, refer to our March, 2018 blog post, “It’s 4 0’ Clog! Here are the Top 4 Causes of Clogged Toilets.”
4- Never mismatch a pipe – Many do-it-yourselfers select the wrong type or size of pipe, or make the right size fit the wrong connectors. Whenever you’re joining two pipes, make sure that the right transition fittings are used and that the pipes actually connect. An example of a common mistake is connecting a galvanized pipe directly to a copper one. When placed together, these two metals will quickly corrode – often resulting in leaks or a failed union. Place a dielectric or brass fitting between galvanized metal and copper plumbing materials to avoid this problem.
5- Never ignore a leak – Leaks don’t improve on their own. Regardless of their size, leaks can cause water damage, as well as cause mold and mildew growth. A small leak can become larger as the pipe deteriorates further or the connection between pipes loosens even more – and will increase your monthly water bill in the meantime.
6- Always turn off the water – If you’re performing a DIY repair, remember to shut off the water supply before starting work. Depending on the job, you may only need to shut the water off at the fixture itself (such as a sink or toilet). If the leak is in the main branch line, you’ll need to find the main shut-off valve. The DIY website The Spruce offers a good general guideline to water shut-offs for plumbing repairs.
7- Not calling a professional plumber – Some things are best left to the pros. As a do-it-yourself, it’s important to know your limitations. Attempting a plumbing repair that’s beyond your level of expertise can cost more in the long run, and can even result in further, more expensive, damage.
Speaking of professional plumbers, Adams and Son Plumbing has been serving Central Florida homes and businesses for 60 years. We are family-owned and operated, and all of our plumbers are state-certified master plumbers. Contact us to get – and keep – your home’s plumbing in top repair.