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Plumbing Tips to Save You $$

It's best to keep in mind that prevention is better than cure.

Regular maintenance and responsible use of your drains can save you from costly repairs in the future.

Some things can't be helped, of course. 

If your home is older, your pipes are older too. And your trees are probably older with longer roots as well.

You can't see behind the walls and oftentimes, plumbing damage is progressing without your knowledge.

Keeping your household drains clear is essential to avoid backups and costly repairs.
Here are several tips to help you:

USE DRAIN SCREENS:

Install drain screens on all of your drains. These screens can catch hair, food particles, and other items that could potentially cause a clog. Always remember that the garbage disposal isn't a replacement for a trash can. If you're in doubt, it's best to throw it in the trash or compost it if possible.

While garbage disposals are designed to handle a variety of food scraps, some items can cause damage or clogs. Here are some types of foodstuff that can cause problems for garbage disposals:

  1. Grease, Fats, and Oils: When warm, they're liquid and can pass through the disposal, but they can solidify in the pipes, leading to clogs.

  2. Eggshells: There's a myth that eggshells help sharpen disposal blades, but they actually can create granular waste that sticks to any sludge in the pipes, creating clogs.

  3. Coffee Grounds: While they seem harmless because of their small size, over time they can accumulate in pipes and create blockages.

  4. Pasta and Rice: They expand when exposed to water, so even if they've been processed by the disposal, they can swell in the pipes and cause clogs.

  5. Bones: Most garbage disposals aren't strong enough to grind bones. They can dull the blades, cause the motor to jam, or even result in damage to the disposal unit.

  6. Potato Peels: The starch in the peels can turn into a thick paste and cause blades to stick.

  7. Fibrous Vegetables: Veggies like celery, corn husks, onion skins, asparagus, and artichokes can cause problems. Their fibers can get tangled in the blades, causing the motor to jam.

  8. Fruit Pits, Seeds, and Cores: These are generally too hard for a garage disposal to process effectively and can cause damage.

  9. Nuts: Similar to coffee grounds, ground-up nuts can form a paste with the presence of water and potentially cause clogs.

  10. Expandable Foods: Foods like oatmeal that expand with water can cause blockages over time.

  11. Harsh Chemicals: Though not food, harsh drain cleaners can damage the garbage disposal's seals and other parts.

DON'T POUR GREASE DOWN THE DRAIN

Grease can solidify and stick to the pipes, causing clogs. Instead of pouring grease down the drain, let it cool and dispose of it in the trash.

Plumbers call this FOG - fat, oil, and grease - and it doesn't belong in your pipes. When warm, they're liquid and can pass through the disposal, but they can solidify in the pipes, leading to clogs. Then the small, innocuous stuff sticks to it to create the clog. Just like your arteries.

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU FLUSH:

Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Other items like diapers, wipes (even if they're labeled as 'flushable'), paper towels, and feminine hygiene products should go in the trash, not the toilet.

Generally speaking,  a toilet clog won't directly affect your kitchen sink drain, because in most homes, these two fixtures don't share the same immediate drain line; they're usually connected to separate branches of the main drain pipe.

However, there are circumstances where a clog in one part of your home's plumbing could affect other areas:

  1. Main Line Blockage: If there's a blockage in the main sewer line that all your home's plumbing drains into, it could cause problems in multiple places. A blockage in the main sewer line can cause backups in all of the connected pipes, regardless of whether they're connected to the toilet or kitchen sink. In extreme cases, you may notice water or sewage backup in the lower drains of your house, such as the bathtub or shower.

  2. Venting Issues: Your plumbing system includes vent pipes that help regulate air pressure and allow sewer gases to escape outside. If a vent is blocked, it can disrupt the normal flow of water and waste, potentially causing problems in multiple fixtures.

  3. Improper Plumbing Design: If the plumbing in your home has been improperly installed or designed, you might experience cross-connections or unexpected issues between different parts of the system.

TREE ROOT MAINTENANCE

If you have trees close to your sewage lines, their roots could penetrate the pipes causing blockages. It might be worth having a professional inspect your system if you suspect this could be an issue.

While you probably don't know what is happening below ground, there are some common indications of tree root interference. 

Tree roots are naturally drawn to the moisture, nutrients, and oxygen present in sewer lines. Over time, tree roots can invade these pipes, causing blockages, cracks, and other serious problems. All it takes is a little pipe damage from aging, deterioration or structural damage.

Here are some signs that tree roots might be interfering with your plumbing:

  1. Frequent Drain Backups or Slow Drains: If your toilets, sinks, or tubs are frequently backing up or draining slowly, and this isn't resolved by normal clog-clearing methods, tree roots could be obstructing your sewer line.

  2. Unusual Sounds: Gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your toilets or sinks might indicate a problem. This could be due to tree roots displacing air within the pipes.

  3. Persistent Sewer Odor: If you smell sewage in or around your house, this might suggest that tree roots have cracked your sewer pipes, causing leaks.

  4. Green Patches in Your Yard: If you notice an area of your yard is particularly lush and green, this could be due to a sewer leak fertilizing your lawn.

  5. Indentations in Your Lawn: Over time, a leaking sewer line can cause the ground to shift or indent.

  6. Sinkholes: In extreme cases, you might notice small sinkholes appearing in your yard. This can be caused by the ground settling due to leaks from a broken sewer pipe.

  7. Water Damage: If roots have severely damaged your sewer pipes, you might notice signs of water damage in your basement or on your property.

What clogs a garbage disposal?
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