A lot of us suddenly find ourselves at home with all of our family members, all the time. Togetherness can be a wonderful thing but it can also place quite a strain on your plumbing system. This is particularly true if you have an older home or have a large family.
What can help your plumbing system now, and all year long, is to know the basic dos and don’ts of plumbing—and to share this information with everyone in your household. There is enough going on without worrying about having to call a plumber. The last thing you need are slow drains, clogged pipes, or backed up plumbing right now.
5 Tips to Help Prevent Plumbing Problems
These five tips can help you keep your home’s plumbing running well, prevent clogs, and protect your system:
1. Never Flush Wipes of Any Kind
This tip applies to so-called flushable wipes too, no matter what the label says. If you do keep these kinds of wipes in your bathrooms, let everyone know to only throw them in the trash bin in the bathroom. See how these wipes do not break down and dissolve, as toilet paper does.
The mere idea of flushable wipes may have also seeped into the subconscious of many a homeowner, as a recent news story is reporting that many people have been flushing disinfectant wipes down toilets as well. Doing this causes clogs, wreaks havoc on pipes, and can harm sewer systems in the long run.
As long as you are reminding everyone in your home about the never-flush-wipes rule, you may also want to share this list of no-no’s:
- Cotton balls
- Cotton swabs
- Dental floss
- Diapers (yes, this needs to be on every never-flush list)
- Wipes of any kind also includes baby wipes and wet wipes, in addition to flushable and disinfectant wipes
2. Never Use the Garbage Disposal as a Garbage Can
You can also share this list of dos and don’ts for your garbage disposal with your family. It’s easy to think of the garbage disposal as your home’s mechanical garbage can, but there are definitely more things that should not be put in your kitchen disposal than there are things that are safe for it. Reminding everyone what is garbage-disposal-safe can help prevent clogs from jamming up the pipes system-wide.
3. Always Take 10 Minutes Between Each Shower
When everyone is home, it’s a good idea to remind family members to wait ten minutes between showers. Allowing those extra minutes in-between will let a home’s slower drains the time they need to do their job.
4. Never Use Chemical Drain Cleaners
If you do have a clog to fix, try these tips for clearing clogged drains instead of chemical drain cleaners, which contain active ingredients that can damage plumbing. Drain cleaners may seem like easy, short-term fixes for clogs, but they can lead to long-term, costly problems. Use non-toxic drain cleaners; in a pinch, a solution of baking soda and vinegar can also clear most minor drain clogs. And invest in a good plunger for each bathroom. If your home’s plumbing tends to have tougher clogs, invest in a drain snake.
5. Always Add Drain Screens
If you have not done so already, install properly fitting drain screens and sink stoppers to prevent food, hair, and other things from going down the drain. These kinds of easy preventions can keep the pipes from stopping up.
One final note: You may notice with a house full of people that your water bill goes up. Heavier usage may be the culprit, but a sudden increase in your bill can also mean you have a leak somewhere. Be aware of certain things besides a high water bill that can be a sign of a leak:
- Mildew stains on baseboards, walls, or floors
- Damp or wet flooring (not from showering)
- Water damage or stains on ceiling
- Damp ground outside your home
Be sure the areas under sinks where pipes are located are clear so you can easily see signs of a water leak. And it's always a good idea to remind family members about the location of all shut-off valves in your home, including your washing machine, kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets, and water heater, in case there is a leak.