5 Biggest Plumbing Mistakes Many Homeowners Are Guilty of Making

Space Intown, REALTORS® June 28, 2023

You may not think much about it, but plumbing is an integral part of your home's systems. Plumbing issues such as dripping faucets, leaky pipes, running toilets, or frustratingly low water pressure do happen. Some of these may occur due to regular wear and tear. Unfortunately, some are downright results of poor plumbing practices and maintenance, which could lead to more serious issues including drainage problems and water damage, to name a few.
 Here are five mistakes and poor habits that many homeowners make, and some tips on how to avoid them:

Some items should never go down the sink drain, especially oils, fats, and grease. Dumping too much grease down the kitchen sink can clog your drain and do real damage over time. Once the grease has cooled down to a reasonable temperature, simply toss it in the trash or a disposable container. The same goes for other items such as eggshells, coffee grounds, and any food waste.
Another common plumbing mistake of many homeowners and people, in general, is flushing down materials other than toilet paper or natural human waste. While it is usually just common sense that you shouldn't flush things such as feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, cotton swabs, and even toys and other odd items, this is a common problem in homes with children and teenagers.

These types of items may initially go down the toilet perfectly well, but then they’d get stuck somewhere along the drain line. They can cause backups and clogs in your home’s plumbing system that can be difficult to remove, and can even cause flooding that can damage your home entirely. Flushing such materials can also be damaging to the environment since city sewer systems are not equipped to handle them, so it’s best to just dispose of them in the trash. Since children are often curious to see if they can flush toys and other stuff, it’s best to watch over them if they’re playing with toys near the bathroom. 

If you're reaching for that commercial drain cleaner too often, thinking that it’s a miracle product that can unclog every drain around your home, it’s probably time to look for an alternative. Commercial drain cleaners, while a short-term solution, can cause bigger problems in the long run. These products contain harsh chemicals that can damage metal traps in your home’s plumbing system, corrode pipe walls, and destroy not only metal pipes but also PVC pipes, which can lead to leaks and costly replacements.

Experts suggest that instead of grabbing a liquid drain cleaner, use natural solutions first such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water to loosen up the clog, or alternative products like a drain snake or a power auger. And honestly, if you often find yourself dealing with clogged drains, it might be time to call a local plumber to find the problem quickly.

It's a common mistake for many homeowners and DIYers, thinking that they can leave the water on as long as they work quickly on any water-related project. But this rarely goes as planned, and could result in an even bigger problem: household flooding and possible dripping down to the floors beneath.

This is why it’s critical to turn off the water at the main water shut-off valve or at least turn off the shut-off valve to the fixture you’re planning to work on. Taking those extra few minutes to shut off the water supply could save you thousands of dollars in damage to your property and belongings.

Plumbing repairs take time and money, which is why many homeowners choose to handle some plumbing issues on their own. However, one of the most common mistakes DIYers make is over-tightening faucet supply tubes, pipes, plastic fittings, and bolts that hold down toilets or fixtures. They think that the tighter it is, the better, but that is often not the case. Over-tightening can cause fittings to split, crack, or break altogether, which can also cause a leak. And the worst part of this small error is, it could take weeks for a fitting to completely break, and by then you could be dealing with a leak that could cause major flooding.

Likewise, under-tightening can also cause leaks. Check your fixtures and fittings often to see if they were looser than when you installed them.

Bottom line

Having a home you can call your own means living up to the responsibilities associated with it, including repair and maintenance. Never ignore minor plumbing issues as they can come back to haunt you. And if you don't feel confident enough to tackle them yourself, it might be best to call a local professional to fix them rather than suffer from a costly and more stressful situation later on. 

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