Tips & Tricks
From Expert Plumbers
As a home or business owner, you have plenty to do in your busy day, so a plumbing problem can throw off your whole schedule. There are many opportunities for problems to arise within the pipes of your home or business; luckily, there are just as many opportunities to avoid these issues by treating your plumbing with care. Here are our expert tips on how to keep your plumbing system in good working condition.
Toilet & Septic Tank
Not everything is flushable, even when it’s labeled as such.
Avoid flushing wipes, sanitary products, diapers, cotton balls, medications or any sort of hazardous liquid down your toilet. Everything you flush travels through the municipal plumbing into water treatment facilities, and can cause a bevy of large-scale problems, including sewage backups, damaged plumbing components and contaminated water sources. The only thing you should be flushing is toilet paper.
Avoid using chemical cleaners in the toilet tank.
These cleaners can damage or prematurely disintegrate the metal and rubber components in the tank, accelerating the time in which you’ll have to replace parts of the system. Additionally, chemicals can harm the bacteria that break down the waste in your septic tank. The consequences can include sewage backups into the home, an oversaturated leaching field and more frequent pumping.
Pro Tip: Prevent your toilet from overflowing: as soon as it seems like the toilet is going to overflow, open the tank lid and push the flush valve (flap) down over the hole at the bottom of the tank. Hold it in place until the water shuts off. Upon averting the crisis, contact a plumber to examine the situation and perform repairs.
No bricks in the tank.
A common DIY trick that many homeowners swear by is adding a brick to the toilet tank to displace and conserve water. Please don’t do this. A brick that is submerged in water for an extended period of time will begin to crumble and damage the toilet’s components as well as the plumbing system. Additionally, the toilet is designed to use a specific amount of water per flush to function correctly, and if there’s not enough water left in the trap you run the risk of allowing harmful sewer gases to seep into the home.
Faucets & Drains
Your kitchen sink is not for trash.
Be very careful to avoid letting grease and chunks of food go down your drain. This can cause harmful buildup, clogs and backups.
Pro tip: Use cold water to rinse the sink and drain. Hot water melts grease or other fats and pushes it further into the plumbing system, where it will eventually harden, build up and cause clogs and backups.
Carefully clean faucets and showerheads.
Hard water can cause mineral deposits to build up on frequently used fixtures, gradually impeding the flow of water. Luckily, this is one problem that is pretty simple to fix. Simply use a vinegar-water mix and an old toothbrush to gently scrub away the deposits. If the buildup is extreme or tough to scrub off, soak the fixture by tying a plastic bag filled with vinegar water over the fixture and leave it on overnight. Gently scrub it again and see how much better your water flows.
Replace your showerhead.
Speaking of showerheads, they typically wear out over time and become less efficient, which can cause an increase in the amount of water it uses. Replacing your showerhead with a more efficient model can actually decrease the amount of water used during showers by up to 50%.
Avoid chemical drain cleaners.
Liquid drain cleaners often rely on a chemical reaction to disintegrate the clog, which generates heat and can melt the plastic or weaken the metal of the pipe. Additionally, the fumes from these chemical reactions can be hazardous to humans and pets, causing irritation to skin, throat and eyes. Try using a plunger or a home-grade drain snake. If these don’t work, the problem may be serious enough to enlist a professional plumber.
Prevent hair from going down the drain.
Hair can collect, build up and clog your shower drain, causing the water to drain more slowly. Using an inexpensive screen designed for drains can prevent the hair from entering your pipes.
Quiet your faucets.
A loud faucet can be annoying, but they can also indicate a problem in the plumbing system, so if your faucets are making louder-than-normal sounds, try performing some relatively easy fixes to hone in on the cause.
Check the washers.
If the noises are a new problem, it could be that your faucet’s washers are worn out. Take apart the faucet and replace the washers with new, properly fitted washers. If this doesn’t fix the problem, check the aerator and clean any mineral deposits with a vinegar-water mix and a soft toothbrush. Link to: https://www.wikihow.com/Change-Washers-in-the-Kitchen-Faucet
Have your water pressure checked.
If loud noises are persistent, you can have your water pressure checked to make sure it’s regulated to within proper parameters; a pressure gauge can be installed to ensure your water pressure stays under 80 psi.
Insulate your pipes.
In addition to protecting your pipes from freezing in the winter and keeping your hot water hot, pipe insulation can muffle noises caused by metal pipes reacting to hot water flow.
Optimize your water heater’s performance.
Mineral deposits can develop in the storage tank of the water heater, decreasing the heater’s performance and possibly damaging the water tank. To avoid inefficiency or total failure, clean out the accumulated sediment at least twice per year by draining a few gallons of water from the tank to flush it out. Link to: http://waterheatertimer.org/How-to-clean-sediment-out-of-electric-water-heater.html
Pro tip: Water heaters don’t typically last more than 15 years, so it may be time for a new model. Newer models are overall more energy-efficient, and tankless models can save you money on both water and energy costs.
Invest in a water softener system.
The minerals in hard water, called scale, are harsh on your skin and laundry, but they can also be detrimental to your plumbing system. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium can deposit and build up in your pipes and restrict the flow of water through them. Hard water scale affects the lifespan of appliances, especially those that use hot water. A water softener typically uses sodium, potassium and resin beads to break up the mineral deposits and prevent new ones from forming. Link to: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/a28280250/water-softener/
Pro tip: Does your water heater make “popping” sounds, similar to popcorn? You probably have hard water scale buildup on the heating element. A water softener system removes the minerals that cause scale through ion exchange and can add years to the life of your appliances. It’s important to note that water softeners do not remove bacteria or heavy metals from the water; for that type of removal, you’ll want to look into water filtration systems for healthier, tastier water.
Replace your washing machine hose.
Burst rubber hoses of the past have been the cause of a large portion of the homeowner’s insurance claims. Avoid being one of those frustrated homeowners by replacing your rubber hoses with stainless steel ones. Link to: https://www.thespruce.com/comparing-washing-machine-hoses-2718662
Stick with liquid detergents.
Dishwashers and washing machines often have options in which you can choose between liquid and powdered detergents, and in recent years, “pods” have been introduced to the mix. In every case, it's better to use liquid detergent. Detergent powders can clump and build up in the pipes, and pod casings don’t always dissolve properly, causing major damage over time.
Have an inspection performed before buying a new property.
Hiring a professional plumbing expert to thoroughly inspect the plumbing of a property before you buy it can save you thousands of dollars and plenty of headaches in the future. A plumber can identify problems that can’t be seen by a surface-level perusal.
Winterize your pipes.
Winter can be brutal in many ways, including those deep, hard freezes that cause burst pipes. Before it gets cold, have an inspection performed by a professional to check for proper pipe insulation and any existing weaknesses in the system.
Pro tip: Make sure you know where to find your home or business’ main shutoff and how to operate it (it may require a special ‘key’ or a wrench). If a pipe does break or your home’s heating system fails, shutting off the water main as quickly as possible can prevent further damage to the structure.
Need A Plumber? Give Us A Call
While major plumbing issues most definitely should be handled by a professional plumbing expert, there are plenty of ways you can prevent the issues yourself. If you still aren’t comfortable handling these items yourself, that’s ok - call Hamm & Sons Plumbing for expert consultation, major & minor repairs, and maintenance on your home’s plumbing system.