Mythbusters: Plumbing Edition

Some strange and questionable tips have arisen in the plumbing world and run rampant across the web. Maybe you’ve heard that eggs can sharpen garbage disposal blades or that you can save water by putting a brick in your toilet tank. Are any of these things actually true?

Plumbing myths… prepare to be busted.

Myth #1: You can flush “flushable” baby wipes.

Truth: Sorry, new moms and dads. This is untrue, but it is a common misconception. After all, they are called “flushable” wipes, right? The truth is that flushable wipes are notorious for causing clogged pipes. What’s worse, they wreak havoc on sewer systems. (One “monster clog” in Charleston, South Carolina took three days to clear out of the wastewater treatment plant’s pipes!)

Myth #2: You can sharpen garbage disposal blades with eggs or ice.

Truth: This might seem like a good idea at first… until you find out that garbage disposals don’t actually have blades. Instead of blades, garbage disposals use two impellers that grind solids into liquid, rather than cutting them. That being said, eggs are actually never a good idea to put down your garbage disposal because the membrane from the shell can clog your drain or impede your impellers. Ice, on the other hand, can help clean your impellers.

Myth #3: “I can ignore one leaky faucet. What’s the harm?”

Truth: One leaky faucet might not seem like much cause for concern for most people. However, most people don’t know that one leaky faucet dripping once per minute will waste more than 30 gallons of water a year. The costs and wasted water definitely add up if the problem goes ignored.

Myth #4: You can save water by putting a brick in your toilet tank.

Truth: It’s hard to tell where this myth originated. Whatever the case, plumbers do not recommend that you put a brick in your toilet tank to save water. Doing so can actually keep your toilet from flushing properly. If saving water is something you’d like to do, switching to high-efficiency flush valves can help.

Myth #5: Running hot water will melt grease in your drain and keep it from clogging.

Truth: This isn’t a total myth. Hot water actually can melt grease and make it easier to get off of dishes and cookware. The problem is that the grease will eventually solidify further down your pipes. There it can form clogs with other solids, such as hair and food remnants. To get rid of those clogs, you will need a plumbing professional.

Myth #6: A rumbling or gurgling water heater is going to explode.

Truth: Just to be clear, rumbling from a water heater isn’t a good thing. Is it going to explode? The chances are very, very slim. Bubbles rising from an excessive build-up of sediment inside the tank cause the rumbling sound. In order to keep your water heater from breaking, it’s important to clean out that excess sediment as soon as you discover the issue.

Myth #7: Toilets flush “backward” in Australia (and south of the Equator).

Truth: While this myth is one of the most famous and is actually based on a meteorological phenomenon, it is indeed false. This myth came from what scientists refer to as the Coriolis effect. The Coriolis Effect causes storms in the Northern Hemisphere to rotate in opposite directions from storms in the Southern Hemisphere. When it comes to toilets, the jets are what determine the direction that the water swirls downward. There’s one myth down the drain!

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