8 Tips for Avoiding Unpleasant Plumbing Mistakes
Clogged drains, leaky faucets, busted pipes. Though no one ever really intends to make a plumbing mistake, most homeowners will at some point. Because you depend on water from your pipes for many aspects of your life, including cooking, grooming and cleaning, a plumbing problem isn’t an issue that can be easily ignored.
Before you break out your toolbox and start to fix things yourself, though, you want to make sure you won’t accidentally do any costly damage to your home. Better yet, you want to prevent the need for plumbing repairs by avoiding problems in the first place.
As a homeowner, you can take steps to protect your plumbing, so a problem won’t become an emergency. Here are eight tips to avoid these unpleasant but unfortunately common plumbing mistakes.
Use the Garbage Can, Not the Garbage Disposal
One common mistake many homeowners make is using the garbage disposal for things it wasn’t made to handle. Though your garbage disposal can help you get rid of some things mess-free, it can’t handle materials that might get caught in the blades or congeal and create clogs in your pipes.
To avoid broken disposals and really nasty clogs, think carefully before you throw anything down the drain. You should never dump cooking fat, bones, meat trimmings, seeds or stringy vegetables into the garbage disposal. Avoid accidentally dropping inorganic materials like plastics down the drain as well.
Don’t Overuse Drain Cleaner
A clogged drain can be inconvenient. When you notice a problem, don’t instantly reach for the drain cleaner. While these chemicals are extremely powerful, they can damage pipes if they’re used too often.
Instead of drain cleaner, use a snake tool as your first response to a clog. If you’re still having problems, call a professional to remove the clog properly.
Turn Off the Water
If you like doing DIY work and want to save a little money by fixing up your plumbing or installing new fixtures yourself, that’s great. However, to ensure you don’t accidentally damage your home, you need to follow proper procedure.
Even if you’re in a hurry or just adjusting something minor, it’s a good idea to turn the water supply off in case something goes awry. You can shut off water either to the specific fixture you’re working on or to the whole house if necessary.
Know Your Pipes
One of the most common mistakes DIY plumbers make is using the wrong materials. For example, using the wrong pipes together can lead to leaking and corrosion down the line.
Make sure the pipes you use are the same size and are made of the same material. This ensures they will work properly together without causing damage and wear. Also, make sure you use the proper connecting piece between the two pipes — otherwise, they might not seal properly.
Don’t Let Your Pipes Freeze
Another common mistake homeowners make with their plumbing is allowing their pipes to freeze. Frozen pipes often burst, causing thousands of dollars in property damage. It’s important to take precautions to prevent this from happening if you live in a place where it gets cold in the winter.
When it starts getting cold, disconnect garden hoses from outdoor spigots and, if possible, disconnect outdoor lines from the water supply. Inside, try to keep temperatures warm, even while away from home, and run water through the pipes regularly. Adding insulation around pipes in colder parts of your home is also a good long-term solution.
Don’t Ignore Your Dripping Faucet
Though a dripping faucet might first be a simple annoyance, left unfixed, it can lead to more costly repairs down the line. To prevent damage, fix small plumbing problems like dripping faucets and running toilets as soon as possible after you notice them.
By fixing little problems early, you’ll avoid inconvenience and additional costs. You’ll also save water at the same time.
Know Your Local Laws
If you plan on doing plumbing work yourself, it’s important that you know your local plumbing laws. Depending on the extent of the work, you may need to get a permit. If you don’t get a permit, you may be fined, and operating outside the law may make it harder to get support from your insurance company if something goes wrong.
Save everyone some time and worry and check laws and regulations before you start your project.
Call a Professional If Needed
Though there are a lot of plumbing problems homeowners can fix themselves, some issues may require the experience of a trained professional. Though it may not be fun to have to call in a plumber, it’s worth it if it can save you time and money.
If you’re worried about your ability to handle a project on your own, it doesn’t hurt to call a professional and see what they think. It’s likely they’ll be able to tell you how easy — or difficult — it will be to fix.
No one likes plumbing problems. They are inconvenient, expensive and, often, kind of gross. However, by taking preventive measures and following best practices when repairing your plumbing, you can avoid the more unfortunate mistakes people commonly make. It’s also good to know how to maintain your home’s plumbing system before a problem occurs. A happy home is a safe home!