The average Canadian uses 329 liters of water each day. And 65% of that is used in their bathrooms.
30% of the bathroom use goes towards flushing the toilet while 35% is used for bathing or showering. While Canada may be home to 1/5 of the world's freshwater, that doesn't mean we should waste it.
Which is why it's so important to have our plumbing in good working order at all times. Unfortunately, there are common plumbing myths that many of us believe are true.
And that can lead us to make bad decisions that can lead to costly fixes. If you're looking to help conserve water and save money on plumbing problems, keep reading.
We're sharing with you the top five biggest plumbing myths.
1. Toilets Can Flush Almost Anything
You should never use your toilet as a substitute for a garbage chute. There are many items that should be thrown away in the rubbish rather than flushed down the toilet such as:
- Feminine hygiene products
- Makeup wipes
- Baby wipes (even those that say they're safe to flush)
- Fish (live or dead)
- Dental floss
- Paper towels
- Cotton balls
- Cigarette butts
- Cat litter
The only things that you should flush down your toilet are your human waste and a modest amount of toilet paper. Anything else will clog up the system.
The Real Cost of Tossing the Wrong Things Down the Toilet
You can easily block or damage the sewer pipes on your property which would result in you spending lots of money on plumbing repairs. All that waste also reduces how efficiently the sewage treatment plant works which means it costs everyone more money.
And when you put the wrong things down the system, it damages the environment and the health of our waterways.
What to do if You Accidentally Flush Something
Kids sometimes flush the wrong thing like their Barbie doll down the toilet. Sometimes, you accidentally drop a ring down the toilet.
Do not try using a plunger, that's only going to help get the clog to go down into the system further, it won't help items come back up.
Instead, try using either a plumbing snake or a wire hanger. For metal objects, try attaching a magnet at the end of the hanger.
2. The Most Common Plumbing Myths About Leaks
While you may think a slow drip is annoying but no big deal, you're wrong. Even a small leak of one drop per second wastes around 10,000 liters of water every year.
A leaky faucet also means:
- Higher water bills
Usually, a leaky faucet is caused by a broken or faulty value which you'll need to be replaced. To see out how much water (and money) your dripping or leaky faucet is costing you check out our water waste calculator.
Don't Ignore Leaks
Left unattended for too long and the damage could mean rotting wood or drywall, mold, and even a compromised foundation to your home.
Thankfully, it's relatively cheap to fix a leaky faucet. Your homeowner's insurance may even cover part of it.
How to Track Down a Leak
However, it's not always easy to track down leaks in your home. You may have no idea that you have one.
One way to detect a potential leak is by checking your water company bill every month. A higher bill for no reason can indicate a pipe or fixture has a leak.
Another way to spot a potential leak is to listen for hissing or gurgling noises or the sound of running water when no one is using the plumbing.
Check Your Water Meter
If you suspect a leak, turn off all the water in your home and then check your water meter for a few minutes.
If it moves, then you've got a leak. Close the water supply main shut-off valve and if it's still turning you'll know the leak is outside between the valve and the meter. If it's not still turning, the leak is inside.
The most common leaks happen with toilets. But if you notice your floor feels hotter than it should, you may have a hot water pipe leak.
Invest in a Smart Home Device to Detect Leaks and Reduce Water Usage
Another smart way to ensure you immediately spot a leak is to buy a smart home device that monitors the water. If it detects a leak or a frozen pipe it immediately sounds off an alarm and shuts off the water feed supply.
The smart home device can also help you reduce your usage, thereby reducing waste and saving you some money.
3. You Can Put Anything Down Your Garbage Disposal
There are so many plumbing myths in Markham about what you can and can't put down your garbage disposal. There are even myths about what you can and can't use to clean your garbage disposal.
Let's dispell them now before you clog up your drain.
What You Can't Put Down Your Garbage Disposal
Here's a list of common items that you should never put down your garbage disposal because they will ruin the blades or wind around the blades causing a malfunction:
- Banana peels
- Potato peels
- Coffee grounds
- Fruit pits
- Onion skins
- Pumpkin and fibrous vegetables
- Cleaning chemicals
You also shouldn't put hot grease down your drain. It can build up on the inside of your pipes and cause clogs. Instead, wipe the grease out of your pans and toss it into the garbage can.
How to Properly Clean Your Garbage Disposal
Another myth involves how to clean your garbage disposal. Many people think it's okay to put lemon peels down the disposal to help it smell clean.
While it will help reduce odors, it won't actually clean it. And the peels may get stuck on the blades.
Try using a mild soap and some warm water. Start by unplugging your disposal. Once it's no longer attached, spray down your disposal using the soap and water.
Ice, Vinegar, and Baking Soda
Instead, try putting ice cubes down your disposal every few months to clean the blades. Don't do it too often or you could dull the blades.
Then wait a few minutes and scrub it out using a medium bristle brush.
Baking soda and vinegar also help clear drains and kill odors.
4. Low Water Pressure isn't a Big Deal
Low water pressure is usually easy to fix. But you should also realize that it could be a sign that there's a major issue present.
Sometimes the cause can be simple such as your valves aren't opening all the way. Another simple cause is that your showerhead or faucet is old and full of mineral deposits.
How to Deal with an Old Showerhead or Faucet
You can either replace your showerhead with a new, low-flow showerhead or try to clean it. If you need to clean the end of your faucet or showerhead, start by removing the screen.
Then rinse with water or clean with vinegar.
Mineral Deposits, Debris, and Corrosion
Mineral deposits and debris can also build up in your pipes. Even a small amount of sediment buildup can greatly impact your water pressure.
One serious problem can be that you have corrosion buildup within your piping. If your piping system is made from galvanized or steel pipes, they only last up to two decades.
But over time, those pipes corrode naturally. And when they're corroded, it can cause block flow and lower water pressure. If that's the cause, you'll need new piping.
Plumbing Leaks and Old Water Filters
However, another cause for low water pressure is that you have a plumbing leak. Leaks are the most common reason for low water pressure.
If your home uses a whole-house or single-faucet filtration or treatment system, you should replace the filter. Clogged filters cause low water pressure.
Check the Shut Off Valves
Most faucets have their own shut off valves that lead directly to them. They're located nearby and there's also the main water shut off located near the meter.
It may be that something happened and the valve isn't as open as it should be. Check to ensure they're entirely open to see if that resolves the problem.
Fixture Specific Low Water Pressure
If you notice that the water pressure in your home is mostly fine but you notice a few fixtures with lower water pressure, it's a fixture-specific issue.
Generally, in those cases, it's the fixture itself and not the plumbing. If it's a faucet with low water pressure, it's often due to a clogged aerator.
Try using a vinegar-water solution to clean the buildup of debris or contact your plumber to install a new aerator. If it's still low, there may be a clog in the line. This is common in older homes with galvanized plumbing.
Temperature Specific Low Water Pressure
You may notice that your water pressure is low but only at certain temperatures. If you find that you have low water pressure when you turn on hot water it could be your water heater.
Check the shut-off valve to the tank of your water heater. The shut-off valve should be open. If it's not, open up the shut-off valve entirely.
If that doesn't resolve the issue, contact your plumber.
Others Using Water
Another common cause of low water pressure is if others are using their water at the same time. This can happen if two people are showering at the same time or if the washing machine is running while someone is bathing.
But you could also experience low water pressure if your neighbours are also using their water at the same time as you. If you find the water pressure is only low during certain times of the day, this could be the cause.
5. Plumbing Doesn't Require Maintenance
It's important to have plumbing maintenance performed annually. This helps you prevent failures in the water line or the sewer line that can be immense and costly.
But there are also other benefits to yearly plumbing maintenance such as:
- Modern plumbing helps during times of water shortages and droughts
- Water-saving devices help increase water efficiency and save you money on water and energy bills
- Access to clean water helps you and your family stay healthy
Your plumber will do much more during his or her annual checkup than just see if your pipes have leaks or are becoming corroded. He or she will check for signs of stress on your major appliances.
What Your Plumber Checks During Their Inspection
During your routine plumbing inspection, your plumber will check:
- Water heat
- Supply line
- Shut-off valves
- Appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher
They'll look for signs of corrosion, blockages, and leaks.
How You Can Help Prevent Potential Plumbing Problems
During the year, you should also keep an eye on your plumbing. If you spot any problems, it's time to call in your plumber.
Here's what to check periodically:
- Visually inspect all fixtures
- Check all visible pipes
- Check all visible downspouts
- Activate faucets and fixtures that aren't used often
- Clean out filters and screens in your faucets
- Soak showerheads in vinegar
You should also regularly clean the lint traps in your dryer and washing machine.
How to Keep Your Pipes Safe During Colder Months
You should also keep your thermometer above 14 degrees Celcius in the winter to keep your pipes from freezing. Do not isolate certain rooms just because you don't use them often so all your pipes warm.
Let your water run at intervals as well and insulate both your cold and hot water pipes. If temperatures are particularly cold, keep your cabinets open to keep warm air circulating and let a small amount of water drip from faucets.
Call Us in an Emergency
Now that we've dispelled these five common plumbing myths, we hope we've educated you so that you can prevent problems from arising in the future. But even when you do everything right, an emergency can pop up when you least expect it.That's why we're here. We're standing by 24/7 to help fix your plumbing problem. Click here to learn about our emergency services.