Home Improvement

8 Mistakes People Make That Cause Plumbing Problems

Plumbing issues in homes are rarely convenient. Most people will agree that a major water leak, a clogged drain, an overflowing toilet, or a leaking water heater can and will turn their lives upside down. You don’t want to experience a plumbing emergency in the UK. No one does. 

Yes, old plumbing systems will require professional maintenance at some point. 

But if you are looking for answers to questions such as: 

  • How does it always happen that you mess up your well-functioning toilets, sinks, faucets, water pipes, and drain pipes? 
  • Why do you end up spending more on plumbing repairs in the long-term? 
  • Which of your habits or actions cause minor or major plumbing issues?

Then, read along! 

Many property owners are unaware of the best DIY plumbing tips and make some common mistakes that cause plumbing problems. Here in this post, we will discuss exactly that. 

#1. Using caustic drain cleaners 

When you have a blocked sink or slow-running drain, you may feel tempted to use a caustic drain cleaner. After all, such products are often advertised as quick-fix solutions for all kinds of drain blockages. 

Chemical or caustic drain cleaners offer a temporary solution at best, and that too, when used judiciously and as per the directions on the right kind of clog. 

Such drain cleaners create only a small pathway through the blockage because the gravity limits the flow. So don’t expect a drain cleaner to clear the drainpipe completely. 

Drain cleaners with harsh chemical substances promote corrosion of the inner lining of the drain pipes. So, excessive use of chemical drain cleaners can damage the drainpipes and the sewer system in the long run. 

The savvy way to keep your plumbing clog-free? Plumbers specialising in drain cleaning services use: 

  • Eco-friendly solutions;
  • Video pipe plumbing diagnosis equipment (with miniaturised cameras mounted on fibre optic cable);
  • Drain snakes (motorised drain augers);
  • Hydro-jetting equipment.

So, before you squirt in a chemical solution, call in a professional plumber to get your drain unclogged. Avoid this pesky situation when you include the drain-cleaning service in your annual plumbing maintenance checklist. It’s better to plan early and have clean drains year-round so that you can preempt preventable emergency plumbing repairs. 

#2. Dumping coffee grounds down the sink or drain 

Back in the days, many homeowners thought that coffee grounds were suitable for their drain pipes. So, you might have heard the myth that dumping coffee grounds in the bathroom sink or drain will clear the lines and make them smell fresh. Don’t dive in thinking it’s an excellent maintenance hack.

Using coffee grounds to remedy foul-smelling drains and sinks is not a good move, for a reason. The reality is that coffee grounds, as well as several other foods, tend to clump together inside the drain pipes. So, they are as good as cement inside the drain pipes! Over time, coffee grounds inside the drain pipes can form nasty clogs and leave you with no option but to call in your local plumber for emergency drain cleaning. 

Our advice? Avoid dumping coffee grounds in the drain line, regardless of whether or not they have installed a waste disposer. Remember, prevention is better than having to spend time and effort on DIY plumbing problems and solutions.

Alternative use: Toss coffee grounds into your compost bin instead.  Coffee grounds have close-to-neutral pH and are an excellent source of Nitrogen. So, the compost prepared with coffee grounds can help improve soil texture. If you don’t have a compost bin, dispose of coffee grounds in a garbage can. 

#3. Keeping the waste basket under the sink 

In many households, people place their waste baskets out of sight – directly under kitchen sinks. Although a seemingly convenient option, placing waste baskets under kitchen-sinks is unsanitary, increases the risk of continually hitting the drain pipes, and deteriorates the joints. Over time, it can lead to drain pipe leakages and breakages. 

If you want your drain pipes to last, a hidden pull-out cabinet with in-built trash away from your pipes won’t spoil the look and is ideal for any kitchen. Likewise, when you place your waste basket in a room for cleaning detergents and supplies, you won’t detect that lingering smell coming under the sink.

#4. Not cleaning the aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets 

The minerals, scale and chemicals in your water supply can cause a build-up around the faucet holes over time. 

The result? You may experience reduced water flow from faucets in your kitchen or bathroom. The sediment can also affect the taste of the water. 

Be sure to clean the aerators on all faucets at least once per year to prevent common, faucet-related plumbing problems. This might sound laborious, but the annual care of your faucets can improve the water quality and water flow rate from your tap. Plus, you can save time spent on scrubbing chalky plumbing fixtures when you invest in a domestic soft water system.

#5. Using your waste disposal to get rid of things it can’t handle 

Waste disposal systems come in handy, sure. They make your life easier as you can quickly dispose of food scraps while you cut down on nasty smells coming out from your waste basket.

Still, many of you treat the waste disposal as a trash can and put in things its inner parts can’t handle. From grinding eggshells to fish bones, there are countless ways things can go wrong in the kitchen waste disposal. 

Before you suffer through another kitchen appliance repair, make sure not to put anything from the following list of waste disposal clog culprits down the drain: coffee grounds, rice, pasta, bread, eggshells, animal bones, onion layers, nuts, fibrous vegetables, potato peels, and grease.

You may also like:
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How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink Drain with Standing Water

#6. Pouring grease, oil, and fats down the drain

The byproduct grease comes as a natural consequence of cooking everything from butter to meat, lard, food scraps, sauces, dairy, and baking goods. 

When you pour grease (or greasy material) down the drain, it cools off and sticks to the inner lining of the drainpipe. This is because grease build-up slowly turns into a lump and attracts other food particles and debris, leading to typical plumbing problems such as clogged or slow-running drains. When a fatty lump blocks your drain line, expect difficult and costly maintenance issues down the road.

#7. Approaching a plumbing job without spare parts 

Some people do not have the necessary equipment before they fix a house plumbing problem. Not just repairs, troubleshooting your plumbing system also requires some essential tools. 

Without essential plumbing tools –  such as a pipe wrench, adjustable spanner, hex key, metal file, plunger, tubing cutter, etc. – and basic supplies, it’s insane to think you can replace a faulty radiator valve, fix a leaking toilet tank, or repair a leaking boiler

One common plumbing question people ask is – what if you just want to repair a few faucets and have some essential plumbing tools available already? Well, you still need to be mindful of buying not just a cartridge and a washer. Plumbing installations are not as straightforward as buying and changing a light bulb. Those are probably worn-out, but there may be other faulty components as well. You may even have leaky faucets until they are fully repaired post disassembly/assembly.

You will have to make a second trip to the hardware store or call your plumber if you don’t have O-rings, stem seals, and gaskets available.

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#8. Keeping the main water line ON while attempting a plumbing fix

Many people like to think they can quickly swap in a new assembly, tighten a bolt, or repair a leaking pipe. For most people, such adventures don’t turn out well. 

Be sure to turn off the water supply before you approach a plumbing repair job. 

Why risk hundreds or thousands of pounds in water damages when it takes just a few minutes to shut off the water supply? Why risk major plumbing problems? 

Ideally, all adults in the family should know how to use the stopcock. This way, you can significantly lower the risk of water damage because of a burst pipe or a major leak.

Takeaways

  • Watch what you dump down your kitchen/sink drains, garbage disposal, and toilet.
  • Hire an experienced and reliable plumber if you have no prior experience in DIY plumbing. 
  • Shut-off the water supply before you repair a fixture or pipe. 
  • Gather all tools and spare parts before you start with a plumbing repair task. 

Author Bio:

For the past 30 years, twin brothers Dave and Jim Schuelke have run their company Twin Home Experts. Twin Home Experts is also one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels online for valuable content to both homeowners and plumbers showcasing DIY and frequently asked questions.

Image Source: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

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