You know the feeling: the sheer panic that grips you when, after flushing the toilet, you see the water heading in the wrong direction—towards you! Plumbing issues are never fun and often costly. Here are five things you can do to avoid plumbing emergencies.
Be careful about what you flush The only product you should be flushing down the toilet is toilet paper. Wipes and paper towels generally don’t break down in the septic system. Even so-called “flushable” wipes can often cause problems. And it goes without saying that bulkier items like feminine hygiene products and diapers should go in the trash.
Be kind to your garbage disposal Don’t put big chunks of food in your disposal or choke it by pouring in too much waste at once. And make sure to put the following items in the trash (or compost) rather than the disposal: hard foods, like bones and fruit pits; stringy foods, like celery, artichoke and corn husks; starchy foods like pasta, rice and oatmeal; and, of course, any non-food items, like paper, plastic or sponges.
Dispose of grease in the garbage It’s a bad idea to put grease in your sink or toilet. Instead of draining, lard sticks to the sides of pipes and then hardens, making it more difficult for water to pass through. Your garbage can is the only place for grease.
Don’t use harsh chemicals to treat clogs Heavy-duty drain cleaners aren’t your friend. Their harsh chemicals are damaging to your water pipes. However, there are a number of better solutions you can try. A good first step is simply to use a plunger. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can try a vinegar and baking soda mixture. Some more advanced solutions include cleaning the P-trap (the U-shaped segment of the pipe under your sink) and cleaning inside the pipe network using a snake drain or an auger (just make sure you turn off the water supply and place a bucket beneath any disconnected pipes).
Inspect your plumbing fixtures regularly Check your sinks, toilets and tubs regularly to make sure there are no leaks or other problems. Even small leaks can turn into big issues and are best addressed right away. Some other signs to look out for are:
A toilet that rocks on its base
Stained walls, peeling paint or musty odors, which are signs of excess moisture
Unexplained spikes in your water bill, which is a sign of a leak