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7 Quick Ways to Prevent Plumbing Disasters

If you want to avoid plumbing fiascos, follow these 7 steps.  These simple rules will help you avoid flooded bathrooms, broken dishwashers, burst pipes, and paying plumbers to fix the mess.  Most of these tips take only a few minutes, but their benefits last for months.  You’ll have good plumbing and a balanced budget.

1. Respect Your Sink.

Treat your sinks and drains with a little respect.  Never dump cooking grease down the drain.  It creates the most disgusting clogs, blocks pipes and will leave you with a hefty repair bill.  Instead, pour the leftover grease into a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator.  Let it harden overnight, then scoop out the solid waste into the garbage.

2. Use Drain Strainers.

Use them in the shower, bathroom sink and kitchen sink.  People lose hair when showering, and that hair may linger in pipes until it forms a super clog.  Before you know it, you’re standing in ankle deep water.  Or imagine you don’t have a drain strainer for the kitchen sink.  When you wash your dishes, all that food debris goes down the drain and stays in the pipe.  Sooner or later, it forms a clog, and the kitchen sink stops up.  Make sure you have adequate drain strainers for the bathroom and kitchen, and stop clogs before they have a chance to grow and ruin your pipes.

3. Clean Your Drains Once a Month.

Every month, take a cup of baking soda and 2 cups of white vinegar (some recipes call for apple cider vinegar – take your pick).  Shake the baking soda into the drain, and follow it with the vinegar.  Let the mixture sit for several hours, or overnight.  In the morning, rinse the drain with hot water.  After that, you should have a fast draining sink or shower.  It’s far safer than over-the-counter chemical cleaners, which are highly toxic and can harm the environment.  This is a proven method for clearing your pipes.

4. Scrub (your dishes), Rinse, Repeat.

This applies to dishwashers.  Never toss dirty dishes into a dishwasher.  Large food particles transform into nasty clogs.  By keeping your dishwasher line clear, you prevent it from backing up into the kitchen sink and causing a major plumbing disaster.  Taking an extra minute to rinse your dishes prolongs the life of your dishwasher.

5. Prevent Burst Pipes.

Winter is a beautiful season, but it can be a homeowner’s nightmare.  You’ve heard about pipes that freeze and burst.  There are a few simple solutions.  When the temperature drops, open the doors or panels to the areas of your house that house your pipes.  The heat from your home should keep the pipes at a stable temperature, so that your water will not freeze.  You can also leave your cold water running just enough to allow one tap to drip every few seconds.  For this, choose the tap furthest from your incoming line.  Allowing that tiny bit of motion in your lines will go a long way toward preventing your water from turning to ice.  If you are going on a long vacation, you can also leave the heat on.  It might be expensive, but then so is the plumbing disaster that happens after your pipes burst.

6. Perform Routine Inspections.

People who live in older houses or apartments should know where the major pipes are, and keep an eye on them.  Pay attention when the faucet starts dripping or the toilet runs.  It’s usually the first sign of a major problem.  Ignoring it will not make it go away.  Think of it as medical care: the sooner you spot and treat a problem, the easier it is to cure.  The same goes for clogs and leaks.  For your first inspection, you may want to hire a professional plumber.  A plumber will understand your plumbing well and be able to educate you on what to look for.  When it comes to avoiding a potential plumbing disaster down the road, you may find that it is money well-spent.

7. Do It Yourself?

Is DIY a good thing or a bad thing?  It’s good when it comes to the basics: installing shower or sink screens, or cleaning drains.  Once the job becomes complicated, it’s a lousy idea.  Just Google ‘DIY plumbing disasters’ and look at the pictures or read the stories.  You may see washing machines rigged to drain into the bathroom sink, soda bottles used to replace a missing section of pipe, or that old favorite: duct tape, holding a pipe together.  Never attempt to fix a major plumbing problem.  The odds are good that you will turn a nuisance into a catastrophe, leaving you with a botched job and a major plumbing bill.
Follow these 7 suggestions.  They don’t take too much time.  But the alternative to simple routine maintenance is a major plumbing disaster.  And that is something that we can all live without.