What Your Kids Should Know About Your Home’s Plumbing

In order to prevent costly plumbing problems in your home (or worse, the home of someone your family is visiting), it’s a good idea to teach your child the basics of plumbing as they grow up. Not only will this help you, but it will also teach your child about how to properly take care of a home.

Here are the 4 key plumbing lessons that all kids should learn, along with the recommended age for each lesson.

1. The Only Things That Go in the Toilet

Recommended age: preschool age and older

Young children find toilets inexplicably fascinating. Many little ones will want to experiment with the toilet in their home by dropping toys or other objects into the bowl. Not only is this very unsanitary--it could also lead to a severe plumbing problem. The only things that should ever go down a toilet are toilet paper and the bodily functions for which toilets were invented.

Even adults have been known to flush the following clog-causing items:

  • Diapers

  • “Flushable” wipes

  • Hair

  • Dental Floss

  • Q-Tips

  • Paper Towels

  • Facial Tissue

All of these items are infamous for causing obstructions in pipes. Even flushing too much toilet paper at once can cause the toilet to back up. Which brings us to the next lesson...

2. How to Unclog a Toilet with a Plunger

Recommended age: 12 years and older

Almost everyone has clogged up a toilet or will clog up a toilet at some point, so this skill is a plumbing essential for everyone. Make sure to let your child know to not panic if it happens to them. The most important thing to remember is this: don’t try to flush the toilet again without plunging it first. Trying once more to flush the toilet before plunging could cause the bowl to overflow.

3. The Only Things That Go Down the Garbage Disposal

Recommended age: 6 years and older

This is another plumbing lesson that even a lot of adults don’t know. In general, the only things that should be going down your garbage disposal are the small bits of food left on your plate after a meal.

The following items can damage your garbage disposal or cause clogs in your plumbing if put down the garbage disposal:

  • Grease, fats, or oils used for cooking

  • Potato peels (in large quantities)

  • Stringy, fibrous vegetables

  • Eggshells

  • Coffee grounds

  • Expandable foods like rice and pasta

  • Hard items like bones, stems, or fruit pits

Also, remember to teach your kids to beware of reaching into the garbage disposal unit to retrieve something that might’ve fallen in there by accident. Depending on the design of the garbage disposal or what fell into it, your child could risk injuring their hand by reaching blindly inside.

4. How to Shut Off the Main Water Valve

Recommended age: 12 years and older (or old enough to be left home alone)

To prevent extensive water damage due to a sudden leak, everyone in your home who is old enough should know:

  • The location of your home’s main water valve

  • How to shut it off in case a leak occurs

Take some time with your child to show them exactly where to go and what to do and have them give it a try so that they can feel confident if they ever need to shut the water off while you’re away.

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