5 Ways to Avoid an Expensive Plumbing Repair This Summer

"An ounce of prevention prevents a pound of poop."
Katherine Lehman, Angie's List

A plumbing emergency is the worst thing to experience during a summer get-together (or anytime). Here are some tips that will help you keep your plumbing system healthy.

1. Never use an exposed pipe to hang laundry

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If your laundry room is in the basement or other unfinished space with exposed plumbing pipes in the ceiling, resist the urge to put hangers on the pipe. The extra weight on the pipe will loosen joints and fasteners, and will cause the pipe to leak much more quickly and more often than if it were left alone.

If you need a good place to hang clothes, you can build a simple rack out of plumbing pipe that you can buy at your local hardware store. Pinterest is full of great tutorials, for example.

2. Only bodily waste and toilet paper should be flushed

That means NO flushable wipes. 

Things like diapers, feminine hygiene products, floss, paper towels, tissues, and "flushable" wipes might go down the toilet when you flush them, but they are NOT biodegradable and will not disintegrate in the water like toilet paper will. They can easily cause a big clog in your main sewer line that will have to be snaked out by a professional, and they can sometimes cause buildups and other problems down the line at the water treatment plant. Just play it safe and don't flush anything besides toilet paper.

3. Avoid chemical drain cleaning products

We know that buying a bottle of liquid drain cleaner for just a few bucks is much easier than spending $100+ on hiring a plumber, but those harmful chemicals can actually eat away your pipes each time you use them. Additionally, these drain cleaners are not effective on some types of clogs, and they will only cause harm to the poor plumber who has to come out and clear the clog manually.

In fact, one of our technicians was called out to a home last summer to fix a stubborn clog right after the homeowner had used a chemical drain cleaner. Our technician left the job with chemical burns all over his body after the drain cleaner splashed back at him while he was clearing the clog. Not good!

Instead of using a store bought liquid drain cleaner, try pouring baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water into the drain to loosen the clog. A handheld drain snake or auger is another great option that you can buy at the hardware store for pretty cheap.

4. Keep hair and food out of drain pipes

Try your best to keep food scraps, hair, etc. from going down drains by using drain strainers wherever possible. Scrape food into the trash before washing dishes, even if you have a garbage disposal. Most importantly, never pour grease down the drain; grease is only liquid when it's hot, and when it solidifies in the pipes, it can create a very stubborn clog in your main drain.

For some easy ways to dispose of grease, check out this infographic we made:

5. Fix small leaks quickly

Even the smallest of leaks will start corroding pipes, and the leak will only get worse. The best thing to do when you discover a leak is to get it fixed right away. The price to repair a small leak is nothing compared to the cost of a burst pipe, water damage, or hundreds of gallons of wasted water.

We're all about prevention here at Universal Plumbing. Feel free to call us anytime at 586-459-0040 or email us at office@plumbingandsewer.com if you would like to make an appointment, would like to find out more about our services or pricing, or if you have a question. We're here to help!