If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If you’re a homeowner, you probably share this sentiment more often than you’d like. Houses seem to have no shortage of problems, and plumbing troubles, in particular, always seem to crop up at the most inconvenient times.
The good news is that you can help to prevent several plumbing problems from ever occurring in your home by making a few simple adjustments. Here are the most straightforward issues you can avoid, along with ways you can avoid them.
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1. Don’t twist too far.
Why do faucets drip? Usually, it’s because an internal washer has worn out. These washers can wear out prematurely if you try to twist a faucet handle to the extreme each time you shut the water off. Many homeowners mistakenly do this to prevent their faucet from dripping, unknowingly increasing the likelihood that the faucet will indeed drip in the future.
When shutting the water off, simply turn the faucet handle until water stops coming out. There’s no need to twist it any farther.
Sink, Shower, and Bathtub Clogs
1. Invest in drain guards.
The first line of protection against these common clogs should be drain guards. As their name implies, drain guards keep potential clog-causers (like food and hair) from going down your drains. You can find these guards in grocery stores, dollar stores, home improvement stores, and online, but keep in mind that the best ones generally are made of silicone, mesh, or stainless steel.
2. Limit what goes down the drains.
When it comes to preventing sink clogs, it’s also crucial to keep oil, grease, and fat used or produced during cooking from going down the drain. These substances cool down in your pipes and harden on pipe walls. This buildup over time can lead to a major clog that’s difficult to reach. Soap scum from bars of soap can also lead to this same problem, so opt for liquid soap whenever possible.
3. Rinse with hot water.
Despite your best efforts, some oil or grease will inevitably make it into your kitchen drain while you wash dishes. To help ease its way through your home’s plumbing, run steaming hot water down the drain for about 20-30 seconds after you're done washing dishes. Washing your dishes with warm water will also help.
1. Don’t flush any trash but toilet paper.
Toilets are designed to accept human bodily waste and toilet paper. That’s it. It’s best not to risk flushing products that claim to be flushable, such as certain brands of wipes or kitty litter, as they can still create an obstruction in your home’s plumbing or get caught on something already creating a partial blockage. Even dental floss can cause toilet clogs!
2. Keep a wastebasket nearby.
It’s always wise to keep a small trash bin near your toilet so that any non-flushable garbage can be thrown away. Even if you may not use it, others may need it for floss, flushable wipes, facial tissues, feminine hygiene products, gum wrappers--you name it!
3. Let your guests know if you own a low-flow toilet.
If your guests are not aware that you have a low-flow toilet, they might end up trying to flush more toilet paper than the equipment is designed to handle. Do your guests (and yourself) a favor and avoid a potentially awkward situation by alerting them ahead of time.
Jammed Garbage Disposal Units
1. Don’t use your garbage disposal as a garbage can.
Because of their name, garbage disposals are often used as spare garbage cans. The fact is that these machines are only meant to grind down small remnants of food leftover from a meal.
Never put any of the following items into a garbage disposal unit:
Fibrous or stringy vegetables (such as celery)
Starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes)
Gristle, fat, or bone
Any food that expands (such as pasta, rice, oatmeal, or bread)
Nuts, seeds, pits, or stems
Paint or glue
Low Showerhead Water Pressure
1. Use distilled white vinegar.
If the water pressure is fine everywhere else in your home except your shower, then your showerhead probably has a case of mineral buildup. This is a common issue in areas with hard water (water that contains high mineral content). Every time the water dries, it leaves behind crusty calcium deposits that can block the water jets on your showerhead and disrupt the water pressure.
To dissolve the mineral buildup, follow these instructions:
Submerge your showerhead overnight in a large bag or bowl of distilled white vinegar. In some cases, you might be able to unscrew the plumbing fixture to let it soak. You can also tie a bag around it with a rubber band or twist-tie to keep the bag of vinegar in place.
In the morning, microwave a small bowl of distilled white vinegar until it’s warm.
Use that vinegar and a toothbrush to scrub away any remaining mineral deposits.
Lastly, wipe your showerhead dry with a clean cloth. Do not rinse.
If you find that hard water continues to cause problems, you may want to consider installing a water softener. Water softeners not only reduce mineral buildup on your plumbing fixtures, but they reduce it in your appliances as well, allowing them to operate longer and more efficiently. Softer water also heats up faster than hard water, helps your laundry get cleaner, and makes your skin and hair feel healthier.
Sewer System Backups
1. Be careful where you plant.
Tree roots love sewer pipes because they contain three things trees love: water, nutrients, and oxygen. Unfortunately, this creates problems for countless homeowners every year who get sewer line backups as a result of invasive tree roots. To avoid this issue, make sure to plant trees at least 10 feet away from your sewer line.
You can help to deter a tree’s growth toward your sewer line by giving its roots a more attractive path. If you create a big, deep area of loosened soil that leads away from your sewer line, the roots are more likely to grow into that soil, as it offers the path of least resistance.
2. Avoid fast-growing trees with invasive roots.
Some trees grow much faster and possess much more aggressive roots than others. If you don’t know the exact location of your sewer line, it’s best not to plant this kind of tree at all. Some common examples of this type of tree are sycamores, maples, ashes, elms, beeches, eucalyptus, and several oaks.
2. Opt for small, slow-growing trees.
These trees will be the easiest to manage and the least likely to damage your home’s water pipes. Keep in mind that even though they are classified as “small,” many of these trees (like the crape myrtle) can reach around 30 feet in height--definitely tall enough to provide your yard with shade and privacy.
At EZ Flow Plumbing, LLC, we offer a wide array of plumbing services in Gilbert, AZ, including repairs, installations, and remodeling. We also proudly serve clients in Chandler and the surrounding areas. Contact us online or call us today at (480) 351-1820.