Many of us have experienced a plumbing emergency when we had to field phone calls with a plunger in hand. Trying desperately to get professional help as the water starts to damage our homes. This is a bad situation to deal with, and yet it is avoidable to a certain extent. Now, it is true that we cannot guarantee that you will never have to deal with a plumbing emergency again. But, you can prepare for this eventuality, and this will make it much easier to deal with the situation. Let’s take a closer look at how you can limit the risks with preventative maintenance and planning.
- Prepare Your Response Now
The last thing that you need in the middle of a plumbing emergency is to be searching around for tools and phone numbers for a local plumber. Assemble a basic plumbing toolkit that will allow you to deal with a few common problems that may arise. Get a cup plunger for basic clogs and a flange plunger to deal with clogs on non-flat surfaces such as in the toilet. Include a flashlight, screwdriver, gloves, and a flashlight. Keep everything in a handy dedicated toolbox. Then do some solid research on local plumbers that have excellent ratings for service. Consider hiring them for some smaller plumbing jobs in your home and see how they respond to phone calls. Once you’ve found a plumber that you like, store their emergency number, and you already know the number to call if something goes wrong. That is one less thing that you need to worry about if a plumbing emergency occurs.
2. Pay Close Attention to Your Kitchen Drain
Any plumber will tell you that the majority of problems are caused by a drain clog that causes a sewer backup or a large scale water leak. Most of these clogs are preventable if you avoid placing certain items in the drain. A smaller clog can often be removed manually with a simple cup plunger or perhaps a plumbing snake. But, a smaller clog can grow in size over time as more material is added to it. It may be tempting to pour a chemical drain clearing product into the drain, but this is not advisable. The caustic chemicals in these products can damage the pipes and make the situation worse. This is why a professional plumber will always carry out a manual clog removal.
Here are some common items that cause clogs, and they should not be poured into the kitchen drain:
- Cooking fats: Grease, oils, and fats will harden as they cool in the drain causing a sticky blockage that other materials can adhere to creating a larger clog.
- Paint: Certain water based paints could be poured into the drain, but it’s a better idea to avoid this practice entirely. Paint can cause a drain clog, and it represents a significant amount of damage to the environment.
- Coffee grounds: Coffee is a major contributor to many kitchen drain blockages.
- Eggshells: Past advice would say that eggshells could sharpen garbage disposal unit blades, but this is incorrect. In fact, the exact opposite is true, and the shells can add a hard layer to an existing clog in your kitchen drain.
- Rice and pasta: Both of these foods expand significantly when they become wet during the cooking process. This is equally true when these foods are in the kitchen drain, where the constant supply of waste water will contribute to the clog.
3. Don’t Place These Items in the Bathroom Sink Drain
The same principle can be applied to the bathroom sink drains in your home. Many people place items in the drain on purpose, or it could be an accident. In both cases, this can cause a significant clog in your plumbing system.
Avoid placing the following four items in your bathroom sink drain:
- Hair: The hair that goes into the sink drain can clump when wet and stick to other materials. Hair is tough. It will not create a clog on its own, but it will make an existing clog worse, and this includes hair from shaving.
- Soap Chunks: If a piece of soap breaks off in the sink drain, it’s tempting to wash it into the drain. But, this is a bad idea. When this material comes into contact with hard water, it can create soap scum. This sticky material is a major cause of bathroom drain clogs.
- Cotton balls and Q Tips: These materials will not break down in the drain, and they even absorb water to become larger.
- Medications: These don’t contribute to clogs in any meaningful way, but they are very bad for the environment, and they need to go in the trash.
4. Protect Your Kitchen and Bathroom Drains
As you can see, it’s important to protect your drains against materials that can form clogs. Start by informing everyone in the home about the dangers of placing these materials into the drain. Then install a drain cover at each drain and clean it regularly to prevent these materials from entering the drain. Finally, add a trash bin at each bathroom and near the kitchen sink to encourage people to place waste there and not in the drain.
5. Avoid Flushing These Materials
The toilets in your home are designed to flush human waste and toilet paper only. Much like the other drains in your home, they simply cannot handle other materials. Here are some items that should never be flushed in your toilet.
- “Flushable” wipes: These items are not flushable at all. They may be one of the most common causes of clogs in toilets. This includes toilet cleaning wipes, makeup wipes, and baby wipes. All of these items can cause serious problems for your plumbing system, and they need to go in the trash.
- Diapers: A diaper will not break down in the toilet water; they will swell and cause a serious blockage.
- Feminine hygiene products: Pads and tampons will only grow in size when added to water because they are designed to be absorbent.
- Paper kitchen towels: There are thicker than regular toilet paper, they are designed to mop up kitchen spills, and they don’t break up in water quickly.
- Kitty litter: This material is designed to expand by as much as 60,000 times, and it should never be placed into your toilet.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.