• Homeowners routinely mess up their plumbing. Sometimes the problem is simple forgetfulness. Sometimes, it’s a matter of having learned bad ways of doing things, things that lead to a lot of damage in the long way.

    Hopefully you’re not making any of these mistakes. But if you are, stop immediately! Otherwise, you’re probably going to have to call us up a lot faster than you’d probably like to.

    Failing to insulate hose bibs in winter

    Why do pipes freeze and burst in the winter time?

    Usually, it’s because exposed portions of the pipe resting outside of the home have a little water dripping through them. The pipes that are under the ground are insulated by the earth, but the ones up top aren’t so protected. The metal turns freezing cold. Ice expands, and the pipes burst.

    You can handle this problem by making sure to unscrew the hoses from your outdoor water spigots in the winter. Turn the water off entirely, then insulate the hose bibs. You can do this with a little gadget that’s about $3.00 at any hardware store. They’re easy to use and they keep your pipes safe. And it’s worth the investment because while the bursting may start at the spigot, the cracking and damage can extend well into your walls. The repair can be beyond costly.

    Pouring grease down the sink

    I truly do not know why people persist in doing this.

    Yes, the grease just seems to flow right out of the pan when it’s hot. But when the grease gets cold again it’s going to congeal into a solid plug that can fill and stop a pipe in a matter of minutes. You’ve seen this for yourself if you’ve ever left greasy dishes in the sink.

    The proper way to dispose of grease is to put it into a container you’ll throw away later, like a soup can or an empty bottle. You can then throw the entire mess into the trash.

    Try to be conscientious about scraping the dried grease out of your pots and pans before you wash them as well. Soap cuts a little bit of grease and dissolves it, but not all of it. You can clog up your plumbing simply by washing one too many greasy pans and allowing the water to flow down the drain.

    Throwing trash in the toilet

    If you’d like to keep your plumbing healthy you will never flush anything other than your natural waste products and toilet tissue.

    No kitty litter, no tampons, no trash, no hair, no cigarette butts or garbage of any type. I know you might have seen someone make a video where they flushed golf balls or something equally ridiculous down the toilet. Those are display toilets, meant to entice you to buy their toilets. Those are not working toilets that are being pressed into service every single day.

    Put a trash can right next to your toilet if you need help remembering.

    Using drain cleaner products for any reason at all

    They do not work.

    They also corrode your pipes.

    And they make fixing your pipes difficult and dangerous when you finally break down and call the plumber. You’re essentially ensuring we’ll be greeted with a highly caustic toxic soup when we get in there.

    Sometimes you can loosen a clog by pouring a pot of boiling water down your drains. Stick to doing that if you really feel the need to pour things down the drain, since your pipes are meant to deal with water.

    But most of the time, slow drains or clogged drains are a good sign you need the help of a professional.

    If you avoid these behaviors your plumbing will run smoothly most of the time

    Not all the time—tree roots might still flow into your pipes, for example, and all faucets wear out eventually. But most of the time. And for most homeowners, “most of the time” is generally more than enough.