You’ve probably heard a lot of advice on how to give your home fixtures and appliances a long and healthy life, but unfortunately much “conventional” plumbing wisdom is actually misguided. While we appreciate saving a buck as much as the next person, the truth is that many of these so-called tricks may actually cost you money rather than save it. Below, we debunk some common home plumbing myths to help keep you from wasting money on cheap and ineffective fixes in the future.
Myth #1: Bleach Is Good for Unclogging Drains
Bleach is a powerful disinfectant and an effective sanitizer. Diluted in water, bleach can be used to remove stains, kill germs, and banish unpleasant odors from the surface of the kitchen sink.
One thing bleach can’t do? Unclog a drain.
Bleach just doesn’t have the right chemical properties to break up clogged matter. And pouring bleach down a clogged drain can be dangerous, especially if you try plunging the drain afterwards. The pressurized pipe can send the bleach-soaked contents back up the pipe to splash your face, eyes, and hands. Also, mixing bleach with the contents of the drain (which are high in ammonia) can create a caustic chemical reaction that can be harmful to breathe and potentially deadly.
Don’t use bleach to shift a clog. Instead of pouring chemicals down the drain, try a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit in the drain for 15 minutes before running the water. If that doesn’t shift the clog, try using a plunger. See a few other non-chemical drain-cleaner recipes here, and don’t hesitate to call C&W Plumbing. We’re available 24/7 to help get things flowing again.
Myth #2: Soap Is a Safe Way to Clean Plumbing Fixtures
Think you can use soap and water to clean your plumbing fixtures? Not so much. Since soap is safe for your hands, you may think it’s no big deal to use on your sink, but soap will corrode most fixtures. If yours are made of brass, the safer alternative is a mix of lemon juice and baking soda.
Myth #3: You Can Use Ammonia to Clean Plumbing Fixtures
Soap isn’t great for cleaning plumbing fixtures, but ammonia is even worse! Ammonia can be highly damaging to acrylic surrounds, tubs, and shower stalls, as well as metal plumbing faucets and fixtures. Over time, ammonia may cause permanent damage to the finish on fixtures and fittings that can affect their appearance and longevity.
Myth #4: A Cheap Appliance with a Lifetime Warranty = a More Expensive Product
When you have the choice between a quality appliance and a less expensive product that comes with a warranty, don’t be swayed by the warranty alone. A warranty only guarantees the product you have; it won’t get you a different or upgraded version. If you buy a product that’s prone to breaking, it’s going to keep breaking in the future. The money you save now also won’t make up for the time you’ll spend waiting on replacement parts or the cost of continually reinstalling the product. All in all, it’s better to buy a quality product from the start and add an extended warranty, if available.
Myth #5: Plumbing Doesn’t Require Maintenance
If you don’t see a problem with your plumbing, it’s probably fine—right? Not necessarily. The fixtures in your home require maintenance, just like anything else. Your pipes, for instance, should be inspected regularly to prevent dangerous gases from leaking into your home, and your drains should be inspected for hair or food buildup to prevent nasty clogs. Maintaining your pipes ensures they remain in good condition and prevents expensive and potentially dangerous plumbing issues from developing.
When you sign up for our Gold Membership program, a 14-point inspection is included. Learn more here.
Myth #6: In-Tank Toilet Cleaners Save Time and Money
Many people think buying an in-tank cleaner is a quick solution to regular toilet cleaning. In reality, such cleaners do not effectively protect your toilet from buildup. The inside of your bowl may look cleaner, but these products just bleach what’s inside instead of removing it. Over time, such build up will become a problem, and the bleach will eat away at the components.
To effectively remove buildup, simply pour vinegar down the overflow tube. The end result is better and more cost-effective.
Myth #7: It’s Okay to Flush “Flushable” Wipes
It’s common knowledge that makeup and baby wipes aren’t safe to flush down the toilet, but many people don’t realize that the idea of “flushable” wipes is another plumbing myth! Those flushable wipes don’t break down as easily as manufacturers say, and they’re no safer to flush than any regular brand of wipes. Flushable wipes can still clog sewer lines and septic tanks. Many cities spend millions of dollars dealing with issues relating to the presence of wipes in sewer systems. The best way to dispose of all kinds of wipes is to throw them in the trash.
Myth #8: Hot Grease Can Be Safely Poured Down the Kitchen Drain
Most people know grease can easily block the kitchen drain, but what about hot grease followed up with plenty of hot water and detergent?
The truth about this plumbing myth is that there’s no safe way to dispose of grease down the drain, whether it’s hot or cold. Any grease you pour down the drain can potentially solidify and form a clog somewhere. If you pour grease down your drain, at some point you’ll have to deal with the consequences. That might mean a blockage in the S-bend or P-trap underneath the sink, which is a relatively simple problem to fix. But if the blockage happens in a less accessible location, it may not be so easy.
To clear out grease that ends up going down the drain anyways, use BioOne, an enzymatic cleaner that eats the grease and maintains the drain.
Myth #9: If Your Water Heater Is Rumbling, It’s About to Explode
Is your water heater making some alarming rumbling or knocking sounds? Those noises can make it sound like there’s a major issue, perhaps even a potentially dangerous one. In fact, those noises are actually just a sign that your water tank has a buildup of sediment. It’s not typically a dangerous problem, and it won’t make your water heater explode. But it can damage the tank over time, and it may eventually start to leak.
The solution is to drain and flush your water heater to get rid of the sediment. This is something a homeowner can do themselves if the heater is not too old. Or, if you prefer an expert to take care of this job, you can call C&W Plumbing.
Myth #10: It’s Okay to Ignore a Leak If It’s Just a Small One
If you have a dripping faucet, it might be tempting to just let it drip. Or perhaps you’ve noticed a small damp patch on the floor or in a wall. It’s just a small leak; what harm can it do? The fact is, even a small leak can do plenty of damage to wood and drywall. If you ignore a small leak, it’s almost guaranteed that over time, it will turn into a big leak. Something that starts out as a small leak may in time burst a pipe or cause some other major issue that leads to lots of costly damage.
It’s never safe to ignore a leak because leaks never stay small. And it’s much easier, and cheaper, to fix a small leak than it is to fix a big one.
Myth #11: Any Plumber Will Do
If you aren’t familiar with plumbing problems, any plumber can seem like an expert. The fact is, not all plumbers have the same knowledge or level of expertise, or commitment to continuing education. Don’t fall prey to the myth that any plumber is a good plumber! Take the time to choose a plumber with experience, or you may end up needing to call someone else and spending even more money.
At C&W Plumbing, our technicians are licensed and insured, and we are dedicated to their continuing education. We can help you better understand your plumbing issue. Call us anytime!
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