9 Things That Are Ruining Your Home's Plumbing

By: Kevin Jefferson

The biggest problem with plumbing is—no one thinks about it until something goes wrong. Our carelessness can be quite expensive to fix.

While some mishaps are out of our control, most of them are our fault. Here are 9 things that could be ruining your home’s plumbing.

Overusing Liquid Drain Cleaners

Clogged drains are a fact of life. Avoid the temptation of using liquid drain cleaners when you’ve got a clogged drain. Some liquid drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can react with existing corrosion and wreak havoc. They also may generate heat that can crack the drain pipe.

Moreover, most drain cleaners shouldn’t be used with toilets. But in desperate times, many of us ignore the label and pour the whole bottle down the toilet.

However, the repairs can cost much more than a few bottles of liquid drain cleaner. There are other, much safer ways to unclog a toilet

Thinking You Can Handle Tackling a Big Plumbing Job

Don’t get me wrong, a bit of DIY enthusiasm is usually healthy, and hiring a plumber can cost an arm and a leg, so it’s perfectly fine to try and fix smaller plumbing issues by yourself. But, that doesn’t mean you can fix everything on your own. There’s a very good reason why plumbers can be expensive.

It’s okay to try and fix the toilet tank on your own or use a plunger or a snake, but leave the bigger jobs to the pros. Many an overconfident DIY-er often ends up over-tightening connections, joining two different pipes together, or simply forgetting to turn off the water before starting the job. 

Flushing Foreign Objects

If you want to avoid obstructions, clogs, and a hefty bill from a plumber, it’s best to avoid treating your toilet bowl like a garbage can.

We may think it’s okay to flush baby wipes, paper towels, and sanitary pads because they are in the same aisle as toilet paper, but it’s not. If you have kids that are potty trained, it’s very important to teach them not to flush random things down the toilet for fun.

Pouring Grease Down the Drain

The fat from the grease is sure to cause a huge clog eventually—not just at home, but in city-owned pipes as well. It coats the pipes and can build up quite fast.

So, when you’re done sizzling a pan of delicious bacon, let the grease cool down. Once it solidifies, scrape it off and throw it into the garbage can. The worst thing you could do is pour it down the drain right after you’re done cooking.

Using Drop-in Toilet Fresheners

Even though they are convenient and smell nice, drop-in toilet fresheners can turn into a nightmare. They seem like a mess-free way to clean your toilet, but many such products contain chlorine.

Chlorine can corrode washers and gaskets. It’s not the most fun way of cleaning the toilet, but, to avoid damaging the parts inside the tank, stick to scrubbing with toilet bowl cleaner.

Debris Buildup

When it comes to faucets, we tend to have a high tolerance for low water pressure. As long as the water is coming out, we’re happy. But, slack flow can be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a debris buildup. 

Failing to Protect Against a Freeze

If the insulation around the pipes is bad, the water in your pipes can freeze when temperatures drop in the winter. This can cause them to burst or expand.

A frozen pipe in your house can cause problems for the whole neighborhood. Every year, frozen pipes cause hundreds of millions in damages. The average loss related to frozen pipes is $18,000.

The good news is you can prevent this type of damage. It’s important to properly insulate your home’s crawl space and the exposed outdoor pipes. It may be a good idea to consider leak alarms and heat tape. Be sure to inspect the pipe insulation regularly.

Putting Everything in the Garbage Disposal

When the garbage disposer was invented, local wastewater management services around the country weren’t so thrilled. Considering that many people still think that the garbage disposer is synonymous with the garbage can, they were right to express disapproval.

Chemicals, paint, leftovers, bones, trash, and large peels do not belong in the garbage disposal. Potato peels are especially bad for your plumbing system because they are so starchy.

Instead of washing the potato skins down the garbage disposal, its best to throw them in a compost pile. Why not use them to grow scrumptious potatoes in your own garden?

Not Disconnecting Hoses in the Winter

Packing up the grill and patio furniture is not the only thing you need to do in the fall. If you leave a hose connected in the winter, the hose and the pipe may crack.

This might lead to huge leaks both inside and outside of your home, so make sure to disconnect all the hoses when the temperatures drop. If you live in a particularly cold climate, it’s also a good idea to place an insulation cap on the bare spigot.

Chris Cortazzo is a real estate agent affiliated with Compass. Compass is a licensed real estate broker licensed by the state of California and abides by equal housing opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.

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