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Habits That Are Hurting Your Plumbing

Posted on 07/12/2020 by Gabriel Halimi

Humans are creatures of habit. We like routines, and we enjoy the familiar. But not all habits are harmless. Some habits can actually be doing a great deal of harm, even if we don’t realize it. Read on to see if any of these common everyday habits are steadily chipping away at the health of your home’s plumbing system.

Chemical-based drain cleaners 

We all want to maintain our plumbing systems, but reliance on chemical cleaners is not the way to go about it. There’s no such thing as a selective chemical drain cleaner. These corrosive cleaners react with drain clogs to create heat and gas that will dissolve the blockage, but they don’t stop there. The corrosive properties affect the inner walls of your pipes, as well. And while your pipes are (hopefully) made of stronger stuff than a wad of congealed hair and grime, they’re still susceptible to damage from prolonged exposure to chemical cleaners.

You can probably get away with using these cleaners once in a blue moon, but don’t let them become a habit.

Treating your bathtub like a disposal area 

We have this idea sometimes that the bathroom plumbing is just built of tougher stuff than the rest of the house. Many people dump grease, harsh cleaning chemicals, oils and all other “icky” liquids down their bathroom drains, typically the in bathtub or shower.But the plumbing in your bathroom is likely more fragile than you imagine. Those pipes are built to handle the soapy water that gets there during normal use. Pouring food or chemical waste down your bathroom drains can damage the pipes or cause unfortunate blockages.

Confusing your garbage disposal for a garbage can 

Garbage disposals are a wonderful invention that make our lives so much easier, but they’re not completely unstoppable. Your garbage disposal is designed to handle small quantities of general food scraps. Don’t try to force a whole plateful of food down it every night or you’re just begging for damage to your system.

Some foods are harmful to your garbage disposal in any quantity. There are three basic types of food stuffs that should never go down your disposal.

Hard items

Fruit pits, bones and other rock-hard items should be avoided. These items will dull your garbage disposal and will never be completely broken down, increasing the likelihood of clogs. (Fibrous vegetables like celery may also not break down properly and end up clogging your machine).

Oils

Oils or grease shouldn’t go down drains, period. They can cling to your disposal even after you rinse them down. When they cool, they’ll leave behind a residue that stops your disposal from functioning properly.

Gummy foods

Anything that swells with water is a no-go. Pasta can be particularly nasty in this regard. A single noodle slipping down into your disposal won’t do much harm, but if you make a habit of dumping gummy foods down there, they’ll surely swell and clog up your machine.

And a special mention goes out to coffee grounds, which won’t hurt your garbage disposal but can definitely block up the piping beyond it.

Playing plumber

It’s always wise to know our limitations. While some people certainly have the means and expertise to skip the plumber and patch up damaged pipes themselves, the rest of us are much better off leaving it to the professionals.

While it is tempting to opt for the cheaper, DIY option, many a plumbing issue has been made ten times worse (and ten times more expensive) by an amateur patch job. So if you grew up in a family of plumbers, by all means, give it a whirl, but if you find yourself desperately looking up a WikiHow for assistance, save the hassle and call your favorite plumber.

Ignoring all that hair

Hair gets in the drains, particularly the shower and the bathroom sink. It’s almost unavoidable. And if you live in a household of L’oreal models, you probably send at least one full Yorkie dog worth of hair down the drain each month.

Far too many people ignore this problem instead of heading it off. Instead of the bad habit of ignoring how much hair slithers down the drains, try to take up the very good habit of periodically cleaning that hair out before it becomes a giant clog.

Not being proactive about plumbing health 

Life can get very busy very fast. It’s easy to fall into a “wait and see” habit where we ignore things until we get an obvious sign that something’s wrong. Plumbing systems can easily fall into this background category when there are other things on our minds.

But a proactive approach is vital to protecting your home’s plumbing and avoiding huge disasters (and bills) down the line.

Installing a Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff in your home lets you monitor your plumbing for irregularities and leaks, even the ones you don’t notice just by looking. With this helpful tool at your disposal, minor fixes can be addressed quickly before larger problems occur, saving money and extending the life of your plumbing system.

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