Not every plumbing problem is preventable. No one can predict a burst water heater tank, a collapsed sewer line, or when a robin is going to make a nest in your vent pipe. But there are plenty of other common plumbing problems that can be prevented with a little know-how and some good old-fashioned common sense.
Check out these six common household mistakes that’ll have you calling a plumber.
1. Toss The Wrong Garbage In The Disposal
One of the most common preventable plumbing calls involves the improper use of a garbage disposal. Feeding a disposal fibrous items like bananas and artichokes, gummy starches like rice and pasta, and non-food items like wedding rings, trussing string, and twist-ties can really muck up the works.
2. Flush The Wrong Stuff Down The Toilet
Toddlers can’t really be blamed for trying to flush the “bad guy” toys away. Yet many adults are also responsible for flushing non-biodegradable and other inappropriate items down the toilet, including disposable diapers and sanitary products as well as hairpins, hair ties, dental floss, cotton balls, and a dozen other items that somehow find their way into the trap.
3. Pour The Wrong Stuff Down The Drain
We all like to think that whatever we pour down the drain is flushed out into the wastewater system, but the truth is that many household items should never be poured down the drain. That includes oils, animal fats, and other greases that can solidify and line the pipes, promoting clogging.
Also avoid disposing of anything toxic as well as anything that could harden in the drain such as paint, joint compound, or extra plaster from skim coating.
4. Use Brute Force
Trying to stop a leak by turning a faucet valve or pressing hard on a lever until it creaks is one sure way to cause irreparable damage. If you break the valve, you could find yourself dealing with a water volcano that will require you to cut off the source, thus putting the sink out of commission until you can choose, buy, and install a new faucet.
5. Weigh Fixtures Down
Hanging a metal caddy from your shower fixture may seem like a great solution to a space problem, until everyone insists on adding their own super-saver-sized bottle of shampoo to the caddy. The additional weight on the pipe can cause leaks and even breakage.
The same can be said for putting all your weight on a tub spout in order to lift yourself out of the bathtub. Installing safety handles on the walls is a better and safer alternative.
6. Ignore Mysterious Puddles
Puddles may accumulate for a number of reasons. If a puddle grows just outside your shower after use, perhaps you need to replace the strip at the bottom of the door. If there’s condensation on your toilet tank causing a puddle below, perhaps you need to insulate the tank or install a sweat valve. If your bathroom faucet is leaking, perhaps it just needs a new washer.
But if there’s a wet water mark under your sink, don’t ignore it. The leak itself is often easily fixed, but the water damage that can occur over time can rot the wood cabinetry, buckle the tiles, and invite mold. The sooner those mysterious puddles are taken care of, the better for your home.