Have you ever heard (or even tried for yourself) to “fix” a plumbing problem with packing tape? That's one of many mistakes people make when they attempt DIY plumbing repairs. Often, this can turn a small problem into an expensive mistake.
Proper plumbing maintenance and repairs include understanding how a plumbing system works. It's a challenge when friends and relatives offer bad plumbing advice based on myths.
As plumbing experts in Edmonton, we’re aware of the common plumbing myths passed around in this great city of ours. That's why we want to provide the real facts about what you should and shouldn’t do to your home's plumbing system.
Keep reading to learn why avoiding these myths can protect your home and wallet.
Myth #1: Flushable Wipes are Flushable
Yes, we know it says “flushable” on the package. That doesn’t make it safe to put down your toilet.
Flushable wipes are one of the biggest causes of blocked drainage systems. Ask any plumber, and you’ll learn that flushing wipes can lead to a costly clogged drain or plumbing repair.
You should never flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Hygiene products, paper towels, cotton balls, and diapers should go in the trash, not the toilet.
Why? Because wipes and other personal hygiene items don’t break down the way toilet paper does. They are made of tough materials that don’t break down easily at all. What often happens is they will get stuck in your pipes and start to pile up eventually clogging the pipe.
When something goes down your drain, it doesn’t mean it’s gone. Everything you flush travels through the drain pipes. If it gets stuck, it clogs your system.
When water and waste don’t drain it causes flooding in the bathroom or further down the drain. Nasty wastewater can back up into your bathtub, shower, and sink.
But the problem is bigger than a single home. The city’s sewer system is at risk too! Flushed personal wipes often twist in the sewer and become stronger and can clog pumps and city sewer mains.
Materials like oil, grease, and hair, stick to the wipes creating congealed masses. The masses, called fatbergs, clog sewer system damaging pipes and pumps. A fatberg cleared from a London sewer was the size of a double-decker bus.
A study at Ryerson University tested 101 household products, including wipes, tissues, and nappies, sold as "flushable."
The lab-testing found 17 of the 101 items disintegrated to some extent. Only 11 types of traditional toilet tissue disintegrated in full.
If members of your household flush wipes, have your plumbing system checked. Preventive maintenance can save you the cost of major plumbing repairs.
Myth #2: Don’t Worry About a Leaky Faucet
If you ignore a leaky faucet, it can become a bigger problem than a higher water bill. A dripping faucet can mean a larger problem.
Corrosion and mineral build-up can make a faucet leak. Worn-out valves seats and seals or a corroded washer cause dripping. Defective o-rings, washers, and gaskets result in leaks.
If your faucet is dripping, closing the tap tighter isn’t the answer. The tighter you turn a faucet, the bigger the risk you’ll damage it.
Don’t wait to call a professional plumber to analyze your faucet situation.
Fix the Leak to Save Money
Besides the annoying noise, a leaking faucet can increase your water bill. A faucet that drips 30 times per minute adds up to 16.35 liters of water wasted per day.
Use our water conservation drip calculator to learn how much water you’re wasting.
The Environmental Protection Agency says household leaks waste 180 gallons a week. That's 9,400 gallons of water a year for the average family.
Along with saving money on your water bill, you’re conserving water to help our environment.
Prevent Water Damage
That leaky faucet can wear out your tap. The steady drip, drip, drip can pit or stain the sink and other fixtures.
If the reason for the leak isn’t visible, it can cause mold and mildew under the sink. Water can rot away supporting structures and cabinets.
Not fixing a leak can lead to expensive repairs or replacement. Avoid potential problems by calling a plumber at the first sign of a leak.
Myth #3: You Can Put Anything in a Garbage Disposal
If you have a garburator, then you must learn how to take care of it. They are an expensive convenience that works well when treated with care.
The disposal in your kitchen sink isn’t designed to handle everything. While it’s okay to put many foods down the drain, there are eight things you should always avoid.
Grease, Fat, Oil
You shouldn’t put meat fat, oils, and grease in any drain. Don’t put them in the garbage disposal either.
The thick, sticky substances coat the disposal blades and make them dull. The grease and oil will make it easier for the food you are disposing of to get stuck in your pipes.
Never put hard things like bones into your disposal. Bones get caught and spin around the blades. Even if the bones break up enough to leave the disposal, they won’t go down the drain pipes easily.
Seeds and Fruit Pits
If you can’t cut an avocado seed or peach pit with a knife, you can’t crush it with garbage disposal blades. It’s like throwing a rock down your drain. Don’t do it.
There are people for and against eggshells in a garbage disposal. Some people think the shells clean the blades. Others believe the membrane sticks to the sides of the disposal and shredder.
Skip the eggshells if you want to keep your disposal and pipes clear.
Pasta expands when it's exposed to water, even when it's cooked. If you push it down the drain it will swell. It can fill the disposal trap or cause a more serious clog. The same is true for rice.
Avoid putting fibrous veggies like celery, asparagus, and corn husks in your garburator. The stringy vegetables tangle around the disposal blades and jam it.
Coffee grounds can pile up inside your disposal. They cause sludge and sediment that can hurt your disposal and your drain.
Potato peels don’t seem dangerous. But, they create a starchy, soupy mess inside the garbage disposal. It may not happen right away, but all starchy beans and veggies cause problems over time.
No, Ice Won’t Sharpen Your Garbage Disposal Blades
A related myth is that ice cubes sharpen garbage disposal blades. But, garburators don’t have blades.
The garbage disposal mechanism has impellers that spin around. They smash food against the walls of the disposal to break it into particles. Ice cubes can clean the impellers, but they don’t sharpen them.
If you use your disposal responsibly it will work well for you. But if you push your luck you might find yourself spending more time than you would like with your friendly neighbourhood plumber!
Myth #4: Mix Boiling Water With Grease to Prevent Clogs
Never put any type of grease down the drain. Greasy residue belongs in the dumpster, not the drain.
Hot water seems to help grease drain, but when that grease cools deep down inside the pipes, it sticks. Soon, everything else that goes down the drain attaches to it. The grease acts as a magnet for hair, bits of food, lint, and dirt.
When you add hot water to grease, you're sending the grease farther down the drain. You can’t reach it with a household snake. You’ll need a professional to clear the line because it’s still going to cool and deposit in your drains.
If grease lands in your garburator, put cold (not hot) water in it. Cold water might solidify the grease so it leaves the disposal. It may drain without clogging the pipes.
Lots of problems you can’t see occur inside a drainage system. The best way to avoid problems is to never put grease down a drain, toilet or sink.
Myth #5: Do-It-Yourself Solutions Work on Most Plumbing Problems
The biggest myth of all is that plumbing is a DIY project.
Every homeowner has a plunger. It’s a great tool for correcting a small clog. But, sometimes, using a plunger makes the clog worse, or leads to a flood in the bathroom.
When you unclog a drain, are you sure you fixed the underlying problem? A professional plumber is an asset in many plumbing situations.
If you’re confident about fixing a leaky faucet, go for it. But, leave the more complicated issues to a professional. Let’s look at a few examples where a DIY plumber can get in over his head.
Toilets often clog from too much tissue, wipes, and personal products. Most clogs respond to a few minutes with a plunger. But, there are some important things to remember when unclogging a toilet:
Never put chemical drain cleaners in a toilet. This is critical if you’re on a septic system.
Make sure there is some water in the toilet bowl when using a plunger. The water creates a vacuum, which creates enough pressure to release most clogs.
Use a flange plunger for toilet clogs. They have a curved flap below the lip of the cup to create a tight seal. A bowl-shaped plunger will turn inside out if you use it in a toilet.
Don’t use a coat hanger to remove a clog. A hanger scratches the surface of the bowl, allowing germs and smells to collect.
If you buy or rent an auger to clear the blocked toilet, use a closet auger meant for use with toilets.
A licensed plumber handles a severe toilet clog with a professional-grade auger. An auger is a machine that pushes a spinning cable into the toilet drain.
The cable has special blades on it that work inside the pipes to cut through obstructions. Once the drain is clear, the toilet flushes and drains.
Clogged Bathroom Sink, Tub and Shower Drains
The drains in a bathtub or shower have specific challenges. Hair, shampoo, and soap build-up in the drain trap and pipes. Add toothpaste to the mix for the bathroom sink.
When the sink or tub won’t drain, many homeowners try a chemical cleaner to unclog it. But, hair is hard to dissolve and holds water. A hair clog full of water dilutes the chemical cleaner’s effectiveness.
The best way to clean hair out of a tub, shower, or sink drain is to remove the screen cover and the stopper. Use pliers to pull out the hair.
Put hair screens over the drains to keep hair out of the pipes.
Clogged Kitchen Sink
Food, grease, fat, oil, detergent, soap, and grime join forces to slow a kitchen sink. Over time, things stick to the pipe walls. The buildup can block the entire pipe.
If your kitchen sink clogs, try pouring a kettle of boiling water in the drain and plunging it to loosen the debris. Next, remove the P-trap under the sink. Take out any gunk you find before reinstalling the pipe.
It’s smart to call the pros for a kitchen clog that doesn’t respond to a plunger or chemical cleaner. Problems deep inside the pipe need a trained plumber.
Before you tackle repairs on your own, talk to a qualified plumber. A pro can warn you before you start a project you can't finish without proper skills and tools.
If you get overwhelmed by a DIY project, give us a call. Our pros have the knowledge, skills, tools, and experience to handle DIY disasters.
Don't Believe Common Plumbing Myths
Keep this list of the most common home plumbing myths in mind next time you have a problem. You’ll save money, time, and aggravation by hiring a pro to handle the repairs.
If you live in the Edmonton area, give us a call if you have any plumbing concerns. Our expert plumbers are ready to repair, replace, and resolve your plumbing problems.
We're ready to serve you 24/7, including nights, weekends, and holidays at no extra charge. If you have an emergency, we'll be there as fast as possible to fix the problem.
You can schedule an appointment for maintenance and non-urgent plumbing services. You pick the day and time to meet with one of our licensed plumbing experts.
Customer experience and quality service are our top priorities. Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton today for a free estimate.