Five Ways You May Be Accidentally Damaging Your Plumbing

Author: Stephanie Fehrmann | Updated: November 21, 2016

Five Ways You May Be Accidentally Damaging Your Plumbing

Hiring a plumber can be expensive. This is why most homeowners make a concerted effort to care for their home’s plumbing. That’s the plan, anyways. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to most homeowners, there are plenty of things we do to our plumbing on a daily basis that can have a detrimental effect.

 

Ironically, some of the harmful things that we’re doing to our plumbing are happening while we’re trying to keep our pipes in good working order. Talk about confusing. So, how is a homeowner to know how to best care for their pipes themselves and when it’s advisable to call in a professional? Here, we take a look at five common homeowner plumbing mistakes and what to do instead.

 

  1. Flushing Away Unflushables

 

A lot of us think of the toilet or kitchen sink as a garbage disposal. We use them to quickly get rid of all sorts of items. We rinse bits of food down the drain during dish clean up or flush all kinds of paper products down the toilet. The truth is that household pipes are not made to handle these kinds of things and can easily become clogged with these daily habits. Instead, be sure to use your garbage cans for all trash. Leftover food should be scraped into the trash can before plates are rinsed and paper towels, wipes, sanitary napkins, and other non-flushable items should be placed in the garbage bin.

 

  1. Greasing It Up

 

Speaking of washing things down the drain, many homeowners make the mistake of pouring melted grease down their kitchen sinks. While it may seem harmless enough to pour liquid fat down the drain, the fact is that the practice can quickly lead to clogged pipes. When liquid grease hits the cold pipes it turns to a solid and, over time, significantly narrows the passageway. Instead, pour the hot grease into a disposable container and toss out when solidified. Alternately, pour the grease into a jar or bowl and throw it in the trash once it’s hardened. Even better, some forms of fat can be reused in other cooking, so store them in a refrigerated jar for future use.

 

  1. Playing Plumber

 

When drains get clogged we often reach for the liquid drain cleaners. It’s no surprise that this is our inclination because these products are inexpensive and often get things flowing again, at least for a while. Sadly, the initial savings in cost might ultimately lead to a large plumbing bill. Liquid drain cleaners are made from very harsh chemicals that can be damaging to pipes, especially with multiple uses. Even worse, washing all those chemicals down the drain is a terrible environmental choice. The next time the sink gets clogged, try a small plunger (to keep things hygienic, don’t use the toilet one) or pick up a cable auger at your local home supply store. If these don’t work, it’s time to call in the professionals.

 

  1. Self-Diagnosing

 

We all love to avoid repair bills, but trying to figure out plumbing issues when you have no professional training can lead to a whole host of issues, not to mention, an even bigger bill. If the problem is not immediately obvious, it’s best not to take things any further. If you try to fix the issue yourself, you could cause even more damage and wind up having to spend a fair bit more.

 

  1. Not Learning the Basics

 

No one expects the average homeowner to have a wide range of plumbing knowledge, but there is one piece of information they should become familiar with. Knowing where the home’s main water shut off and other emergency shut offs is and how to use them can save a lot of headaches. If you have no idea where to locate these valves in your home, call in a plumber to show you. Many will perform this service free of charge.

 

Remember, plumbing can be complicated and messy. There is a reason why people specialize in this area. When in doubt, be sure to call in someone who knows what they’re doing. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.