We all know how important it is to keep the water running and the pipes working in our homes. Inevitably, a plumbing problem will arise here and there. If you’re the handy type, you can DIY a solution. If the problem is beyond your expertise or you’re decidedly non-handy, you can call your local problem for the fix. But there are several measures you can take to prevent some plumbing problems from even occurring.
Here are five tips for preventing plumbing problems in your home:
- Flush the right way. Of course, there are many things you already know aren’t meant to be flushed down a toilet…like your child’s stuffed animal and your cell phone. However, there are a lot of things that might actually seem okay for flushing, but are not, like:
- Tissues — despite the fact that it’s a paper product, this isn’t designed to break down the way toilet paper does.
- Baby wipes — any type of wipe, even the ones marked “flushable,” are not designed to break down and can even get “caught” if small roots have penetrated the pipes.
- Hair (and dental floss!) — seemingly harmless, it can form a net that gets caught in the pipes and never disintegrates.
- Medication — can dissolve and get into the water system, and cause harmful environmental effects.
- Cigarette butts — full of toxic chemicals and great at causing clogs.
- Bleach — if you’re using this chemical to clean your toilet, you may be surprised to learn that it’s too harsh for your pipes and septic system.
A simple rule of thumb when it comes to flushing: confine paper products to toilet paper only and use vinegar or commercially available products made specifically for cleaning toilets.
- Use the right type of plunger. A plunger is the “old reliable” of drain unclogging, but did you know there are three different types of plungers, each with its own specific use?
- The cup plunger. This is the most common type of plunger and probably the one you’d most easily recognize. It has a handle with a rubber cup. The cup plunger works best on flat surfaces and creates a vacuum effect to loosen clogs. It’s most useful for bathroom and kitchen sinks and tubs.
- The flange plunger. This plunger also has a cap on the end of a handle, but the difference from the cup plunger is the addition of a rubber flap that folds out from inside the cup. This cup/flap combo fits well over a curved toilet drain, creating the suction needed to remove a clog. The flap can also be folded inside the cup to create a flat plunger if needed.
- The accordion plunger. This plunger looks like it sounds: a plunger with accordion-type pleats. Made from hard plastic, this plunger can produce a lot of suction, but it can also scratch surfaces. It’s only suitable for toilets.
- Check for leaks. A small drip can eventually turn into a much bigger, costly leak. Leaks can not only affect your water pressure but also cause damage to your home, like wood rot and pipe corrosion. Make it a point to check your home’s plumbing for drips and leaks on a regular basis — in addition to the bathrooms, take a look at appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, water heater) that use water. Prompt attention to leaks can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
- Respect the kitchen sink. Most clogs in the kitchen sink and disposal are caused by things that shouldn’t be there. Never put any kind of oil or fat (which can congeal) or fibrous food wastes down the drain. You can also install a screen over the drain to catch food items that need to go in the trash. When using the disposal, turn on the water and the unit before adding food; let the water run for 15 seconds afterward to ensure food waste has been flushed down the line.
- Know how to shut off the water. In the event you have a major leaky pipe, frozen pipes, or other water disasters, it’s important to know where your main shut-off valve is located. The valve is almost always going to be located near the outside perimeter of your house and always on the ground floor or in the basement or crawl space. If your home is built on a slab, the shut-off valve is probably going to be near the water heater or under the kitchen sink.
There will be times that you simply need a professional to do the job, so be sure you have a licensed, reliable local plumber on your list of repair specialists. A family-owned company, Howell Services is fully licensed, insured, and bonded, providing quality, trusted plumbing service to the Fort Bend area. We offer competitive pricing and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Let us help you with your plumbing problems, big or small. Call us today to schedule your repair service or comprehensive plumbing inspection.