25 “Must-Know” Plumbing Tips for Homeowners

25 Must Know Plumbing Tips Blog Image - Woman Soaking and Relaxing in Bubble Bath Surrounded by Candles

Text: 25 Must-Know Plumbing Tips for Homeowners. Image: Peaceful Woman relaxing in bubble bath surrounded by bubbles

Your plumbing systems are some of the most important parts of your home, so it pays to give them the TLC they deserve so that you can avoid water damage from leaky pipes, sewer line blockages, water heater or boiler failures, and more.

Read on for these 25 plumbing tips to protect your home and help you enjoy the comfort you deserve.

#1 - Don’t Pour Grease or Oil Down the Drain

Did you know you should never pour grease or oil down the drain?

You won’t notice an issue at first—after all, it’s a liquid, right—but over time, that grease and oil will clog your pipes and cause serious plumbing issues.

You’re better off waiting for cooking oils to cool into solids and then disposing of them in the trash or compost bin.

#2 – Use a Strainer

Using a strainer in your kitchen sink to catch food and other residues will help keep all that gross stuff from clogging up your pipes.

The same goes for your bathroom sink and tub drain: hair and soap residue can cause major problems, so avoid putting them down your drains whenever you can.

#3 – Is it Flushable?

If it’s not toilet paper or bodily waste, the answer is a resounding “NO!” Here are some of the most common items you should never, ever flush:

  • Baby Wipes
  • Q-Tips, Cotton Pads, or Other Cotton Products
  • Menstrual Products
  • Condoms
  • Diapers
  • Dental Floss
  • Paper Towels & Tissues
  • Medication
  • Cigarette Filters
  • Cat Litter
  • Hair
  • Gum
  • Cooking Grease
  • Dead Animals like Pet Fish
  • Food
  • Bleach
  • Toys

#4 – Where Is Your Main Water Shutoff?

Do you know where the main water shut-off in your home is located?

If not, it’s really important that you do because if a pipe bursts, you’ll need to minimize water damage by shutting it off as quickly as possible.

If you can’t find it, let us know. We’ll be happy to help you out.

#5 – Is Your Toilet Flush Valve Sealed for Leaks?

Your toilet’s flush valve seal keeps water from flowing from the fill tank to the bowl when you’re not flushing your toilet. If you think your flush valve seal is leaking, just put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and see if any of it leaks into the bowl. If it does, you’ve got a leak, so give us a call.

#6 – Is Your Main Sewer Drain Accessible?

It’s really important that you know where your main sewer drain is always accessible. If you experience a sewage line blockage, your professional plumber must access it quickly. Make sure rugs, carpeting, or furniture do not cover it.

#7 – Burst & Frozen Pipes

Woman Mopping Water Damage from Burst Frozen Pipe image

Freezing temperatures can bring larger worries than just trying to stay warm - they can also put your pipes at risk of freezing and then potentially bursting. When a pipe bursts, it can quickly cause extensive damage to your house. You need expert help, fast.

As winter temperatures plummet, it’s important to be aware of the status of your pipes. Why? Because if your pipes freeze, it can quickly become a plumbing emergency, especially if they burst. When a pipe bursts, it might start as a small leak, but eventually, the hole will expand, and before you know it, hundreds of gallons of water can fill the lower level of your property. This can cause water damage to your floors, walls, insulation, and electrical work. If left untreated, it can also lead to the formation of mold or mildew, putting your family’s health at risk.

Common Causes of Burst Pipes

  • Frozen Pipes
  • Clogs: A considerable blockage can cause the water to build up and create pressure in the pipes.
  • Aging Pipes: As pipes age, they are subject to normal wear and tear, such as corrosion and cracks.
  • Trees: The roots of most large trees can crack pipes as they grow into the soil.
  • Shifting Earth: The natural shifting of the earth can move pipes from their original position.
  • Construction: Sometimes, construction projects in other areas can cause damage to pipes.

#8 – Chemical Drain Cleaners

Drain cleaners are terrible for your plumbing. They might act quickly, but they’ll cause long-term damage, especially if you use them regularly because the harsh chemicals corrode your piping. These can cause cracks, leaks, and long-term damage. You’re better off calling in a plumbing pro.

#9 – Get Separate Shut-Off Valves for Your Fixtures

When you need plumbing repairs, shutting off your water to certain parts of your house or fixtures and appliances can enable you to avoid having no water at all while your plumber is making repairs. For example, if you have a problem with your kitchen, you can shut the water off but still be able to use your bathroom.

#10 - Prolong Your Tap’s Life

If one of your faucets is dripping, do you turn off the tap as tightly as possible? This may be a mistake because it can put too much pressure on your tap’s seal and worsen the problem. Instead, turn the tap to its natural stopping point without forcing it. If it’s still leaking, contact us today.

#11 – Avoid Puncturing Pipes

When you’re planning on drilling holes or driving nails into your floors, walls, or ceilings, make sure you’re not near any piping, supply, or drainage lines that might get pierced. Stud finders may help you locate piping in these sensitive areas.

#12 – Don’t Put These Items in Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are great for getting rid of food debris, but some things should never go down that super handy chute. In addition to the items below, we recommend checking your user’s manual, so you know how to maintain your unit properly.

Pro Tip:Garbage disposals come in different levels of horsepower, and it’s important to know what yours can handle.

Never put the following items down your garbage disposal:

  • Paint
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Dry Pasta
  • Chicken Bones/Meat Bones
  • Dry Oatmeal
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nuts
  • Onion Skins
  • Egg Shells
  • Trash
  • Pumpkin
  • Fibrous Vegetables
  • Potato Peels
  • Pits (Peach, Fruit, Avocado, etc.)
  • Cleaning Chemicals

#13 – Get a Good Plunger

High-quality plungers make all the difference when it’s time to unclog your toilet or clean sink traps. Clogs can cause leaks, particularly at the base of your toilet, which can then cause waste to back up into your home. Yuck!

#14 – Objects in Your Drain

Baby Flushing Toy Car in Toilet

If there’s a small hard object in your drain and you want to get it out, DO NOT use a plunger or other object that will push it down deeper and make it even harder to remove.

You’re better off using a wet-dry vacuum to suck it out. Or you can rely on Garon T Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning to remove it for you. That’s what we’re here for, and we’ll be happy to help you out.

#15 – Pay Attention to Leaks

If your fixtures are leaking, then you’re wasting money.

A leaky faucet can waste over 8 gallons of water a day. That’s 3,000 gallons a year, enough to take 180 showers. Yikes!

Don’t wait for small plumbing problems on leaky fixtures or appliances to become BIG problems.

Just let us know, and we’ll get your plumbing system sealed up tight.

#16 – Don’t Over-Tighten Fittings

Ever heard the old plumber’s saying, “Hand-tight is just right?” Many do-it-yourself homeowners over-tighten fittings and connections, which can break bolts, strip screws, and compromise seals, leading to leaks, cracks, and broken pipes.

#17 – Use Plumber’s Tape

Teflon tape, also known as “plumber’s tape,” seals pipe threads to stop leaks around fittings and joints. Wrap your fitting or joint with Teflon tape 3-4 times before fastening one connection to another. White tape is used for household plumbing projects. Yellow tape is used for gas line connections.

#18 – How’s Your Water Pressure?

High water pressure in your home is like high blood pressure in your body: you don’t want it.

A pressure-reducing valve can lower it to safe levels and may be critical to prevent water damage or burst pipes if you rely on town or city water.

Water companies pump water to fire hydrants, high-elevation homes, and high-rise buildings at pressures as high as 100 psi (Pounds Per Square Inch), but your home plumbing fixtures are commonly designed to handle 50-60 psi.

#19 – How Old is Your Tanked Water Heater?

Did you know that the average person uses warm water about 20 times daily?

Your water heater is the most heavily used appliance in your home, so the last thing you want is a breakdown.

The average life expectancy of a tanked water heater is about 8 to 10 years, so if your water heater is over 8 years old, it’s time to consider a replacement. Why risk a flood?

#20 – Home Plumbing Inspection

Every homeowner needs a good plumber. When a plumbing emergency rears its ugly head, or you’re ready to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, or any of the other many tasks a good plumber can provide, you need a pro.

But did you know that a home plumbing inspection can ensure you don’t encounter unexpected problems down the road? This is especially true for new home buyers who must protect their investment.

Issues with plumbing, piping, fixtures, appliances, and equipment can help affect the value of your home and aid in price negotiation. For example, if your boiler system is about to go, you need to know about it before you’re faced with an unexpected expense a few months after purchase.

A home plumbing inspection can reveal the following problems … and many more:

  • Problems with Main Sewer Lines
  • Problems with Water Pipes
  • Cracks, Damage, Leaks in Piping
  • Water Heater Issues
  • Boiler Issues
  • Combi Boiler System Issues
  • Tankless Water Heater Issues
  • Toilets
  • Fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Water Quality
  • & More

#21 – Kitchen Sink Sprayer

Have you ever pulled on your kitchen sprayer only to catch the hose on something under the sink? Maybe you had to wiggle it loose or, worse yet, just pulled harder to release it. The chances are it’s getting hung up on your shutoff valves under your kitchen sink.

To solve this problem, use 1/2-inch foam pipe insulation over the pipe and shutoff handles. If it doesn’t stay put, use a little tape to fasten them down. Your kitchen sprayer should now slide smoothly in and out of its cradle.

#22 – Take a Picture

If you’re having a renovation, consider taking a picture when your walls, floors, and ceiling are open and the piping and electrical work is being done. That way, you’ll know where your plumbing and electrical lines are so they don’t get disrupted by future projects.

#23 – Use the Right Tools

Many homeowners have basic tools for woodworking and construction—saws, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and so on—but it’s really important to understand that plumbing tools are often different. Plumbing tools are specialized devices that shouldn’t be substituted with whatever seems handy in your toolbox.

For example, if you try to remove an old galvanized nipped with an ordinary pipe wrench or slip joint pliers, you can easily break the pipe and leave the threads in the wall. Use internal pipe wrenches instead. Do you know what water pump pliers are? Do you have a drain snake?

You get the point, so check with your local hardware store and do your research before embarking on a DIY project. Or better yet, call us today.

#24 – Ditch the Bars of Soap

Body wash is superior to soap bars when it comes to your piping because it’s much less likely to create a layer of soap scum on the insides of your pipes. This layer of scum can trap other types of debris like hair and dirt and, over time, can create clogs. Body wash remains a liquid throughout the bathing process and travels easily through your pipes.

#25 – Flush the Kitchen Sink with Hot Water

Sure, you want to keep oils and grease out of your kitchen sink, so it doesn’t clog your pipes, but, inevitably, some will stubbornly cling to plates and dishes no matter what you do. If you wash dishes in your kitchen sink, run hot down the drain for 20-30 seconds after you’ve finished your dishes to help prevent trace amounts of oil and grease from building up in your pipes and drains.

Thank you for reading our 25 plumbing tips to protect your home and help you enjoy the comfort you deserve! Would you like to discuss your plumbing needs with a pro? Give us a call or contact us today. We’ll be happy to help you out.