Smart Tips That Could Save You A Visit From The Plumber

Not everyone is a handyman, and these days, some people are just not comfortable handling home improvement projects by themselves. That’s especially true when it comes to plumbing. Nobody enjoys repeatedly having to fork over money to a plumber for something they could have prevented. Here are a few simple things that plumbers wish more people knew to help prevent disaster and save them a costly trip to your home.

Don’t Pour Excess Grease Down The Sink

Grease in a pan
Nathan Dunlao/Unsplash
Nathan Dunlao/Unsplash

If you’re someone who tends to pour your bacon, frying oil, or other hot greasy substances down the drain, pretty soon down the line, you’re going to need to call a professional for help.

As grease and other hot oils cool, they coagulate and harden inside the pipes, which can result in clogs that will back up your home’s plumbing. So, the next time you have extra fat in the pan, leave it out to cool and scrape it into the garbage.

Avoid Caustic Cleaner If Your Pipes Are Old

Soap in sink
Ernst Haas/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ernst Haas/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Caustic cleaners may be a go-to solution when you notice that your sink or tubs begin draining more and more slowly.

However, if you use it too often, the caustic oxidizing chemical in most common drain cleaners can really do a number on your old drain pipes. In the event that you need drain cleaner, you’re better off using a natural one that may not work as fast but will pay off in the long run.

A Dripping Faucet Can Help Stop Frozen Pipes

Picture of faucet dripping
Yvan Cohen/LightRocket via Getty Images
Yvan Cohen/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you happen to live in a place where it gets really cold, chances are that you may have had an issue with frozen pipes. This can result in a decrease in water flow from the faucet and can also increase the chances of busted pipes due to the pressure.

To help prevent this, you can keep the faucet just barely on so that there’s a constant, slow drip. It may not solve the problem of frozen pipes but it can help prevent them.

Go Easy On Your Garbage Disposal

Picture of a plumber
MyLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
MyLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Garbage disposals are a helpful utility in the kitchen sink, but just because they can speed up the clean-up process and make food “disappear” doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. According to many plumbers, most households with garbage disposals don’t know how to use them properly.

They’re not designed to handle large amounts of scraps, especially fibrous foods like celery. Your best bet is to put the leftover food on your plate in a compost pile, and if you do use the disposal, make sure there’s always plenty of water running.

Don’t Try To Be A Hero

Plumber working
Kurt Wittman/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Kurt Wittman/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s no surprise that people aren’t eager to call a professional and pay them to come fix something, especially when it comes to plumbing. While there are a few plumbing issues that a simple Google search and some household tools are all that’s needed to get the job done, that’s not always the case.

If you think you may have a serious problem that’s beyond your knowledge or capabilities, it’s better to call a plumber. Then, you’ll at least just be paying them to fix the original problem, not that and another problem that you created.

Turn Off Your Main Water Valve When Leaving For An Extended Period Of Time

Picture of a water valve
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

When someone leaves on vacation or for an extended period of time and comes home to a flooded house, this is most likely because they didn’t turn off their main water valve.

If you don’t and there’s an event like an earthquake or a pipe burst, you’re looking at a serious problem. After turning off the main water, it’s also a good idea to open a few sink or tub faucets to release some of the excess pressure.

Clean Out Your Water Heater Every Year

Picture of water heater
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

While everyone loves having access to hot water, which makes taking showers and washing dishes bearable, many people forget that their water heater is an appliance that needs regular maintenance, just like a car.

Flushing your water heater once a year helps to remove lime and other deposits that built up over time, therefore affecting your unit’s effectiveness. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, call a plumber to keep your water heater running nice and smooth.

Pay Attention To The Base Of Your Toilet And Bathtub

Picture of bathroom
Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you notice that there’s water around the base of your toilet or bathtub, this could be the sign of a major problem. Even if it’s just a small amount, this can indicate that the wax ring seal around the base is beginning to fail.

It’s important to fix this issue as soon as possible because leaking water can be devastating to the subflooring underneath the tile, creating rot and mold, which require expensive repairs.

Check For Leaks

Picture of water meter
Ashley Cooper/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images
Ashley Cooper/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Besides noticing water where it shouldn’t be or noticing your monthly water bill going up for no reason, there are more efficient ways to see if you have any leaks. To start, turn off all of your faucets and appliances that use water, such as a dishwasher.

Then, go check your water meter. If the meter is still moving, water is flowing somewhere in your house, which means that you most likely have a leak.

Don’t Go With A Septic Tank

Picture of a septic tank
Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When it comes to your plumbing, septic tanks are not the way to go for many households. If you have a septic tank system, the lateral septic lines are buried beneath your property, and because they’re out of sight, they’re easy to forget about.

So, if you’re digging on your property or are driving heavy vehicles on top, you can end up breaking one of the pipes. Not only will you quite literally have a mess on your hands but a big bill to fix it.

Trash Is For The Trash Can

Woman throwing away trash
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Even though it’s something that you learn as a child, some people need to be reminded that you don’t put anything in the toilet that doesn’t belong there. If you can, avoid putting feminine products, cotton swabs, paper towels, makeup-removers, and even supposedly “flushable” cat litter.

Many of these products aren’t designed to break down in liquid and put you at risk of clogging your pipes. Most people have a trash can in their bathroom anyway, so use that instead.

Don’t Overpack Things Under The Sink

Picture of things under the sink
John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

It’s not unusual for households to use the space under the sink as an area to store kitchen and bathroom cleaners, towels, or other items you don’t necessarily want out in the open.

While this is okay, it’s important not to cram as much as you can under there. This is because constantly pulling items out and putting them back in can cause your drain trap joints to come loose, which prevents sewer gases from entering and allowing waste water to pass.

Learn How To Use A Plunger Correctly

Picture of plungers
thewirecutter/Pinterest
thewirecutter/Pinterest

Many people are unaware that there are different types of plungers that are designed for different jobs. For example, a sink plunger should only be used for a sink, and a toilet plunger for a toilet. Also, plungers aren’t the key to unclogging any drain.

While they may work for some issues, if you go crazy with a plunger, you may end up with a bigger problem than you started with. So, if you can’t plunge something without relative ease, think about calling a professional.

Don’t Overtighten Fittings

Man tightening valve
DIY Photolibrary/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images
DIY Photolibrary/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

When it comes to plumbing, some people think that the tighter the fitting, the better it can prevent leaks or other disasters from happening. However, that’s the opposite of the truth.

Overtightening the fittings on your plumbing not only makes them unnecessarily hard to take off but can also lead to cracked nuts on the thread or ruining rubber seals. Most plumbers’ advice is to tighten it as much as you can with your fingers, then give it a one-eighth turn with some pliers.

Buy A Drain Screen

Picture of drain screen
Pinterest
Pinterest

Unsurprisingly, hair is one of the biggest causes of clogged sinks and bathroom drains. While this is mostly unpreventable, getting a drain screen can drastically decrease the chances of this happening.

Not only are they cheap, but they’re effective, easy to clean, and are totally reusable. While they may not catch every strand of hair or other debris, they are guaranteed to make a significant difference and save you from having to pay for a plumber’s visit.

Blue Water Doesn’t Mean It’s Clean

Picture of toilet tablet
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

For a toilet that’s beginning to smell or appear dirty, it’s not uncommon for people to drop a cleaning tablet into the tank. This tends to turn the water blue, and although the blue color makes it appears as if it’s working, those tablets can be destructive.

The chemicals that are used in these tablets also have the ability to break down the parts inside the tank. While there’s nothing harmful in using one in a pinch, it should not be a regular practice.

Don’t Forget The Hoses

Picture of hoses
Maytag Appliance Repair and Maintenance Self Help Video/YouTube
Maytag Appliance Repair and Maintenance Self Help Video/YouTube

Even when people make sure to keep an eye on their household appliances that require water, like dishwashers and washing machines, some folks forget about the hoses. These also need to be cleaned and inspected for damages.

On top of that, they should also be replaced around every five years to avoid a break, which is frequently followed by flooding. It’s also crucial to make sure that stainless steel is used on every waterline to reduce rust and increase the line’s life.

Don’t Mess With The Water Pressure Valve

Picture of a pressure gauged
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

For the most part, it’s best to not mess with the water heater by yourself, especially the pressure. When people try to adjust the pressure and pressure valve on their water heater, they can end up messing up the whole internal plumbing system.

Furthermore, the valve can also burst, which is extremely dangerous, as it can cause serious burns and damage anything in the surrounding area. For a job this serious, it’s better to break out your wallet.

There’s Nothing Wrong With Regular Maintenance Checks

plumbing-tips
LinkedIn/Nick Carkin
LinkedIn/Nick Carkin

A common saying is that the best offense is a good defense, something that applies to your home’s plumbing as well. There’s no need to wait for disaster to strike to have someone come in and make sure that everything is up to snuff.

Even if everything seems to be working accordingly, set up regular appointments with your plumber to come by a few times a year, just like you go to the dentist. It doesn’t cost all that much and will pay off in the end.

Old Toilets Can Be Costing You

GettyImages-1228651813
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Even if your old appliances don’t leak or seem broken, they can be costing you money without you realizing it, especially toilets. According to the EPA, toilets account for more than 30% of the average home’s water consumption.

If you have an older toilet, replacing it with a newer, water-efficient one can end up reducing your home’s water consumption by nearly 13,000 gallons every year. Not only does this save you money, but it helps with energy reduction and the environment.