Maintaining Your Plumbing System
Over the past centuries, plumbing has gotten vastly more complex, but also more efficient and convenient. It’s no longer as simple as an outhouse, but rather a system of pipes, drains, valves, and vents that create your home plumbing experience.
That experience can run smoothly, but only with your cooperation. Here are some essential ways to keep your home’s plumbing system running smoothly and efficiently.
What NOT to Put Down the Drain
When it comes to drain issues, prevention is the easiest way to keep things in working order. And for drains, it comes down to what goes through your pipes. Therefore, it’s essential to keep common clog-causing items far from your drains.
Avoid putting these things down the drain at all costs:
- Coffee grounds
- Stringy vegetables
- Meat and bones
- Paper products
- “Flushable” wipes
You may be thinking “why do I have garbage disposal if I can’t put anything down my drain? Well, while garbage disposals are helpful at catching food debris that falls down the drain, they are not a catch-all solution. You still need to avoid putting solid items into the disposal or they could get damaged.
How to Handle a Clog
Even when you’re extra careful about what you put down the drain, it’s impossible to catch everything and clogs are bound to happen. But with the right tools, you can get the water flowing normally again.
We know what you’re thinking: all you have to do is grab some drain cleaner from the store. We caution you to avoid that urge, as chemical drain cleaners often do more damage than good. Any chemical that goes down your drain can cause corrosion over time, breaking down the pipe material and leading to leaks. Plus, these liquids often require multiple tries to clear the drain, and may not clear the whole clog, leaving you with only a partially solved problem.
The best way to handle a clog is to try a natural solution, like a combination of baking soda and vinegar. The chemical reaction is often enough to break up simple clogs. Simply flush with boiling water and repeat as needed. You can also try using a snake to remove clogs if the previous method fails.
If none of the above work and you have a really tight clog on your hands, call in your local plumber to deal with the problem.
Water efficiency is crucial both for preserving your plumbing and your wallet. Consider upgrading to an energy-efficient water heater, which will reduce waste caused by heating standing water before using it. Also, turn off any faucets when not in use.
You can also upgrade to water-saving fixtures and appliances. Look for faucets, showerheads, and toilets classified as “low-flow” to use less water but still get the same performance. Also, try to use your dishwasher in full loads as much as possible, as it will help reduce wasted water used while hand-washing dishes.
Watch for Leaks
Leaks can be an issue even in small instances. A slow drip over time can result in gallons of wasted water, which is also wasted money. Keep an eye out for leaks. If you shut the shower off an hour ago but there’s still water dripping, you may have a leak.
Leaks can also be hidden. Listen for any dripping or water-flowing noises in your walls. If you see discoloration on walls, ceilings, or floors, it may be a leak. For leaks you can’t see, it’s always beneficial to hire a leak detection expert, so you avoid wasted water or damage to your home.